Remembering Suzan Pitt

Remembering Suzan Pitt
Suzan Pitt, an influential animator and artist as well as a longtime faculty member of CalArts' Experimental Animation Program passed away earlier this week. Her colleague, Maureen Selwood, writes this remembrance:

Suzan was a singular artist and one of the most significant contributors to the art of animation in the last century. The Experimental Animation Program invited Suzan to teach at CalArts in 1998. She provided us with a perspective of seeing animation as something that broadened a whole spectrum of inclusionary methods: opera, painting, performance, murals, theater sets and finally painted art coats inspired by the street life of New York City, a signage of urban rumble.

We needed her when she arrived. Her bravery and skills permeated the program bringing forth new thinking about the animated film with new conversations.  She never withheld what she felt needed to be said and always asked one to go further, to risk more, and to be as honest as possible. Her syllabi were exciting to read with her complex associations to the art world of New York and Berlin in the 1970s, and from artists she knew personally.  Her seminal film, Asparagus, is as provocative today as it was when it premiered in 1979. She believed that within us, we had the ability to unfold the way we dream. That each image leads us to the next image, giving birth to dense, often hyper-illusionistic scenes. She gave us her theatrical dreams through work executed with extraordinary self-control -- showing us that written or verbal language was inadequate.

Suzan was eager to explain to students the underpinnings of the complex form of animation art. She always pushed them to go deeper into their own inner lives to bring forth original, significant work. She was quick to point out what to avoid and what needed to come forth.

Her wicked sense of humor was accompanied with a great laugh. She created complex images that provoked and shocked. And she delighted in knowing that she did so. She road horseback across Mexico, lived in the isolated woods of Michigan, and cared for her beloved garden in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Mt. Washington, finally settling in New Mexico, where she passed away on June 16, 2019, at the age of 75.