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Faith Hubley |  Women in Animation

Still from My Universe Inside Out
"My Universe Inside Out"

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Faith on the creative process
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Faith Hubley

What does being an independent artist mean to me? It means freedom. I can't conceive of another way to be.

Faith Hubley was born in 1924 and grew up in Hell's Kitchen, a rough-and-tumble neighborhood in New York City. Hesitant to speak about her childhood in interviews, except to say that her parents "made no room for children," her intimate animated self-portrait "My Universe Inside Out" hints at child abuse and her parents' burning down the family house. She left home at age 15 without finishing high school and worked in the theater.

Early Influences

Hubley went to Hollywood at age 18 and got a job as a messenger at Columbia Studios. Because World War II emptied the studios of young men, women were allowed to work in the messenger room for the first time. She worked her way up in the film business to become a sound effects and music editor and eventually a script clerk at Republic Studios. She moved back to New York and became script supervisor on Sidney Lumet's Twelve Angry Men and James Wong Howe's Harlem Globetrotter film Go Man Go, which she also edited.

Faith and John

from Doonsbury
Zonker in A Doonsebury Special
Love and Work

When John Hubley, my late husband, and I made a film it was an odd combination of primitive, childlike and really sophisticated. So I think I was a healthy balance.

Faith married John Hubley and in 1955 they established Storyboard, an independent animation studio. They had only two marriage vows: to eat dinner with the children and to make one independent film a year.

For more on the Hubleys' work together, check out In Collaboration

Going Solo

Until John Hubley's death in 1977, Faith was often shortchanged by historians and critics. John was always listed as director, and Faith was perceived as the lesser partner, undoubtedly because she was a pioneering female artist in an industry dominated by men.

In 1974, Faith was diagnosed with cancer and began work on her first film alone, "Women of the World (WOW)," the following year. John died during heart surgery when they were working on their 21st film, "A Doonesbury Special." Finished by Faith, Garry Trudeau and their longtime animator, Bill Littlejohn, (despite opposition from studio executives, who questioned Faith's ability to finish the project) the film became their seventh to be nominated for an Oscar.

After her husband's passing, Faith continued to complete one independent film each year. She turned to larger themes and more abstract images in her solo work. Most of her films don't have linear storylines; instead, they draw on her interest in mythology to present ideas and themes, celebrating the wonders of life and the art of indigenous peoples. "Step by Step" (1979) pits mother love against the impossibility of protecting children in an unsafe world. "Seers and Clowns" (1994) uses the words of Chief Seattle against metamorphosing images of wisdom and folly. The treatment of women, as seen in "Witch Madness" (1999) and the mythology of other cultures ("The Big Bang and Other Creation Myths," 1981) are common themes in her work.

Faith Hubley's work has been honored in the Cannes, Venice and London film festivals. She has received fourteen CINE Golden Eagle awards and received the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award by the San Francisco International Film Festival (2000). Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries from Annecy, France to Los Angeles, California. In 1995, she was honored with a retrospective program at Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery. She has received honorary doctorates from Columbia College, Chicago, Hofstra University in New York and the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit.

At the time of her death in 2001, Faith Hubley had completed 25 solo films and was a senior critic in the Department of Art at Yale University, where she taught a class on storyboarding.

See a Filmography of Faith's work.

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