"Little Nemo in Slumberland" was a cartoon strip in the early 1900's by artist Winsor McCay. Credit: Courtesy of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

“Little Nemo in Slumberland” was a cartoon strip in the early 1900’s by artist Winsor McCay. Credit: Courtesy of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

A 2017 Wexner Center for the Arts Artist Residency Award recipient, animator and filmmaker John Canemaker is set to give a talk Thursday at 7 p.m.

The award honors performers in the arts and film/video, according to the Wex’s website.

Canemaker’s presentation will discuss the significance and legacy of the late animation pioneer, Winsor McCay. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum currently houses an archive of McCay’s work, which includes several rare pieces, one being his most famous work, “Little Nemo and Slumberland.”

“They’re going to see an hour’s worth of very interesting animation,” Canemaker said. “I have a keynote of illustrations prepared which will compare and actually give you a real thumbnail history of whom Winsor McCay was and why he’s so important to the beginning of comic strips and the beginning of personality animation.”

Canemaker said McCay was the first to implement personality animation, which is emphasizing an animated character’s individuality and attitude by the character’s actions and mannerisms.

The event will include five short films with three being works of McCay and two from animators who influenced the late artist. Canemaker said he thinks it will be a fascinating hour. He has also written a biography on McCay, who he calls “one of the greatest pioneers” in animation. Canemaker added that McCay is specifically recognized for his creation of personality animation.

David Filipi, Director of Film/Video at the Wex, said that as an Artist Residency Award recipient, Canemaker will be allocated $20,000 in support for his current project, “Hands.”

“Hands” is a short film that was adapted from the 1919 Sherwood Anderson classic short story collection “Winesburg, Ohio,” Filipi said. Canemaker said he is looking forward to delving into the serious subject matter, specifically children battling cancer, and knows it will be an artistic challenge.

“I thought, if I can pull this off in animation, I think that I’ll have done something,” he said. “I’m a little bit afraid of it, but I’m going to try it anyway.”

Canemaker is known specifically his 2006 film

“The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation,” which was awarded the 2006 Academy Award for best animated short.

Tonight marks Canemaker’s third visit to the Wex, Filipi said, with one of his previous visits including an evening of his own animated shorts. Canemaker described the visit “like coming home again.”

Canemaker said he’s had a love for drawing and animation since his early years and described his education as mostly self-taught. In addition to animating, he has also written 12 books on the history of animation and directed the animation program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts since 1988.

“It’s something that I love and enjoy, and I’m very lucky I’m able to use different aspects of my interest,” he said. “I’m a very lucky person to have taken an avocation and make it my vocation.”

The event is presented in conjunction with Cartoon Crossroads Columbus and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum’s exhibition “Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream.” The exhibit will be open through Oct. 23.