Still image from animated movie by David Luke, 2014

Still image from animated movie by David Luke, 2014 (image via


On May 17, folks at the Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser will be among the first to experience Upstream Animated, a quartet of unique animated movies created by interdisciplinary artist David Luke in collaboration with Upstream Arts, with support from Arts on Chicago! To whet your appetite, here’s a brief Q&A with Dave about how the project is unfolding.


What were the seeds of inspiration for UPSTREAM ANIMATED?
The seeds for Upstream Animated came from a couple places. I have been looking to do projected animation for quite a while, but didn’t really have a project in mind. I had seen Upstream Arts programs in the past and had also read many of the poems the participants had written. It felt like a really logical fit that these poems get animated. They are lively, fun, and full of imagery that can move from written word into a moving image.

What has been the process of creating UPSTREAM ANIMATED so far? Any big surprises, challenges, or discoveries along the way?
Sometimes I can quickly move through a few lines of these poems and create a scene or series of images and movements that I feel are a good match to the text. Other times, it has been very challenging to create something visual out of a phrase or sentence that is a bit more abstract in nature. I often will skip parts of the poems and come back to them after I’ve mulled over how they could be animated.

What is Arts on Chicago?
Arts on Chicago is a community arts project that has spanned a couple years now. It supports (through various funders) art projects that knit together and highlight the different communities that make up the neighborhoods along Chicago Avenue from 32nd Street to 42nd Street. I was one of three artists picked this year to do a project and received a grant to support that work. It’s a unique and great opportunity. You can see more about Arts on Chicago at

Why should people come see UPSTREAM ANIMATED at the Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser?
It’s a unique collaboration between many elements that I don’t think come together like this very often. We have a non-profit organization, program participants, and an artist independently creating parts of this work that are all going to come together at an event. [Click here to read about a related performance by students from Transition Plus that will happen in tandem with Upstream Animated on May 17.]

Is there anywhere else people can check out work that you’re doing, around the Twin Cities or online?
Yes, Upstream Animated is going to be shown as part of Northern Spark on June 14th. I am also in a show at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts called Fluxjob right now. It runs through July 6th and is a really fun show with all sorts of Fluxus-inspired artwork. I regularly update my website with new projects and events:


Experience Upstream Animated at the first ever Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser on May 17 at Pillsbury House Community Center! This event is FREE and OPEN to all – click here to learn more and RSVP.