In August 2016, the documentary, Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, was released to the public. This film tells the story of Floyd Norman’s life, the first African American animator hired at Disney.
Floyd Norman challenges how we think about the celebrity of art. Most of us can name several famous historical art figures—Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, Picasso, Warhol, etc. Yet, at the same time, few of us can name significant graphic designers, illustrators, or animators. What does this tell us about how we define art, success, and significance? An animator spends countless hours mastering human anatomy, animal structure, motion, mood, atmosphere, landscapes, and perspective to a degree that rivals the masters. Not only is this talent truly remarkable, but how much more considering the thousands of unknown artists who labor to release a multitude of films each year.
Floyd Norman also highlights what is unique about our humanity. Although animals produce remarkable structures to live in, display ingenious communication techniques, and contribute to the balance of nature, they do not cherish, relive, tell, or create stories, especially not stories constructed of thousands of pictures in sequential harmony. This reality should be something we reflect upon deeply. Animated stories are more than entertainment, they are profound philosophical statements of what it means to be human. Floyd Norman not only is a celebration of a remarkable artist, but a celebration of us all.
Check out an interview with Floyd Norman at the Animation Magazine.