Joanna Priestley

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Joanna Priestley
Joanna Priestley by kate Sanderson.jpg
A portrait of Joanna Priestley by Kate Sanderson ...
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Joanna Priestley is an award-winning, independent animator and teacher. She currently resides in Portland, Oregon. Animation Magazine says that "The exquisite animated world of Joanna Priestley has been one of the best kept secrets of the toon community. Whether she’s exploring our common fears and phobias, observing the vicissitudes of modern romance or commenting on turning 40, her many styles and visions are undeniably original and hard to forget."

Joanna Priestley
Joanna Priestley by kate Sanderson.jpg
A portrait of Joanna Priestley by Kate Sanderson ...

Early life[edit]

Priestley was born in Portland, Oregon to Arthur James and Mae Irene Priestley. She grew up with horses, dogs, cats, a zoetrope toy and fantasies about being a cowgirl. Priestley studied painting and animation at Rhode Island School of Design and received a BFA in art from UC Berkeley, graduating with honors. Priestley received a Master of Fine Arts in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts, where she was given the Louis B. Mayer Award and was mentored under famed abstract animator Jules Engel.


In 1988, after graduating from CalArts, Priestley returned to Portland to found ASIFA-Northwest with Marilyn Zornado. This ASIFA chapter included the northwest region of the United States which comprised Portland, Seattle, Vancouver B.C., and the areas in between. It is now known as ASIFA-Portland. She was president of ASIFA-NW for four years.

During her career, Priestley has produced and directed over 27 animated films, which have been screened at film festivals worldwide. A documentary about Priestley has been broadcast on PBS and BBC2 and she has done animation pieces for Sesame Street and animated segments of music videos for Tears for Fears, and Joni Mitchell. Her background includes Coordinator of the Northwest Film and Video Festival, Director of Strictly Cinema, Editor of "The Animator", Regional Coordinator of the Northwest Film Center and Co-Director and Co-Founder of FILMA: Women's Film Forum. Priestley has had retrospectives at MoMA (New York), Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland), REDAT (Los Angeles), Stuttgart Animation Festival (Stuttgart, Germany) and the American Cinematheque (Los Angeles) and has received fellowships from Creative Capital, National Endowment for the Arts, American Film Institute, MacDowell Colony, Fundación Valparaíso, Millay Colony and Caldera. Priestley was awarded the 2007-08 Media Arts Fellowship from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and her films are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) and in the collections of the Academy Film Archive and the Library of Congress.

Priestley's influences include David Hockney, Jane Aaron, Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Norman McLaren and Jules Engel. She has taught animation, portfolio design and cinema history at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Northwest Film Center/Portland Art Museum, Art Institute of Portland and Volda College (Volda Norway) as well as teaching animation workshops throughout the USA and in Canada, Germany and Norway. She is an ardent proponent of animation as an art form and has presented papers at the Society for Animation Studies Conference and works to improve the status of animation in academia, museums, galleries and the media worldwide. Priestley has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 1992.

"I love Joanna's films. They're brilliant, inventive and amazing. She's the queen of independent animation."—Bill Plympton



Music Videos[edit]



Personal life[edit]

Joanna Priestley is married to animation director Paul Harrod. Her other interests include gardening, medicinal herbalism, and designing and creating and producing events for Burning Man and Halloween.

External links[edit]