Five years ago, the creative forces behind Disney’s popular animated television shows moved into a new building. This wouldn’t seem so remarkable except for the fact that in this new abode, a special area was designed with all employees in mind. The space was specifically designed to act as a gallery for various art displays, particularly art created by Disney employees, and not just the animators among the staff.
About four times a year, an event is held in the gallery space and any and all are invited to participate in that show’s particular theme.
“We’ve had all kinds of themes,” explains Kimberley Mooney, Manager of Development, one of the organizers of the event, “everything from ‘Food,’ to ‘Summer’ to simply self-portraits.”
While Mooney uses the word ‘simply,’ clearly none of the art is effortless or plain in any way. Mooney remarks that for the self-portrait theme, one employee actually created his piece completely from out of old watch pieces he’d collected.
Artists and animators may seem like the most likely participants for this event, but with the invitation to contribute open to anyone, there are often submissions from seemingly non-creative types. At a recent show, a software developer created a three dimension piece that consisted of mounted white facial masks surrounded by lights. The piece was entitled “The Eyes Have It.”
At this same show, one of the pieces was an eight foot very realistic looking robot. This was appropriate given that the theme for this show was “Man vs. Machine: The Robot Show!”
The event, presented by Disney Television Animation, highlighted individual pieces from its talented pool of artists, executives and staff at the studio headquarters in Glendale, California
With regard to the largest piece at the show, the aforementioned huge robot, Mooney assured that, “Yes, we got a call a few days ago about this piece, about how big it was going to be. We have no problem accommodating anything because it’s really all about allowing people to express themselves. They work hard on assigned projects for their job so we want to give them an opportunity to show everyone their individuality through the creation of something that’s outside of what they’re required to do.
The show might seem like simply a fun exercise for employees, but the endeavor offers something more than that.
“It’s not only a team building kind of thing,” says Alexandra Rosenberg, an assistant at Disney who collaborated with Mooney to produce the show, ‘but it gives people a chance to champion each other in a unique way.
This was clear at the most recent show as several employees stood admiring a fellow worker’s creation. They remarked that it was departure from what they’d seen him do for his job and how impressed they were with his obvious skill in this project’s design and execution.
Many of completed pieces are so intricate that one viewing would simply not be enough to truly appreciate the culmination of the vision and energy that resulted in the final product. For all of the time and effort that goes into the pieces, it’s quite appropriate that they remain on display for several months for all to admire.
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes into each of these creations so we want to make sure that there’s ample time for everyone to really enjoy them,” explains Mooney.
In the end, while this might be simply considered an art show, events such as this one are really about allowing employees a chance to break free of the confines that often are imposed upon them given their work responsibilities. By encouraging this type of creative transference for every individual in a manner that allows others to see true expression of thought, that mission has been successfully accomplished.
The robot themed art work will remain in the gallery space until the next show in a few months. The theme of that show, whatever it may be, will allow for a new batch of creations which will surely be labor intensive, but also undoubtedly welcomed by all.