Artist Feature: Jennie Guo ’19 Uses Animation as a Social Platform

While Jennie Guo ’19 has primarily worked with traditional media, she began experimenting with animation since last year.

The animation begins with a bottle of milk placed on the front doormat. The entire scene is wrought in pastel pink hues and calming lo-fi music plays in the background. Titled “i haven’t left my room in months,” the animation tells a story about a shut-in boy who breaks barriers to forge a friendship with the boy who delivers his milk every morning.

This animation was created by Jennie Guo ’19 as part of an independent art project she had undertaken last term and is one of many posted on her YouTube channel. Guo’s love for animation began her Junior year, when she created an animation for a video class.

“I took a video course at Andover and there was a small animation unit. I kind of got really into it then, and so I’ve been sort of just dabbling in it until Upper Spring, when I was in Art-600 and then I was able to do this independent project for that course,” said Guo.

But Guo’s passion for art started from a very young age, and what inspired her to begin her art career was the appeal of making people think critically about the world around them.

Guo said, “No matter what your interests are, or what social status or your race or your gender, most people are going to consume art in some shape or form. And I think because of this, you can reach such a wide audience, and you can really challenge the way people see the world. That is what inspires me.”

Minji Shin ’20, a friend of Guo’s, said, “This year, we’re in the same hall so I got a better chance to connect and I’ve loved learning more about her art. Her art is super colorful and it embraces human emotions and how she feels. She reflects herself in her artwork and her experiences affect her art a lot.”

Guo aims to eradicate the stigma that surrounds certain topics and conversations with her art. According to Guo, she likes to approach topics that people have a lot of preconceived notions about and present unique situations or perspectives that subvert such assumptions. For instance, Guo made an animation the previous year to promote mental health awareness.

“I wanted to make people think about honest conversation and vulnerability in a different way, and my animations have tackled different parts of discrimination and I try to make my audience see something that’s been part of sociopolitical rhetoric for a long time in a really different way, because a lot of times we talk about this but we just spit out the usual terminology, and the usual ideas over and over again without really thinking about it,” said Guo.

Guo cites her parents as a large source of support and inspiration for her art, though they might not be as knowledgeable on the subject.

“I think that motivates me to always create art that they can appreciate, and get it on a level where I’ve accomplished something which maybe [they], in their more traditional mindset, can say, ‘Oh, I see this as an accomplishment,’” said Guo.