FAF: How would you describe your specific style in both animation and art in general? Who or what are your inspirations or influences?
KK: Church and camping trips were two of the most formative influences on my childhood. After bear encounters, dizzying heights, and flash floods, I earned a deep respect for higher powers and things beyond human control. This notion of surrender to the unknown permeates my work. Storms, fire, and darkness are motifs I often use to represent the uncontrollable. I work in a wide variety of traditional and new media ranging from ceramics to digital animation. Much of my work, including To Ashes, is in black and white. I think that’s just the result of personal minimalist tendencies. If I don't feel like color would contribute something, then I don't bother with it.
FAF: "To Ashes" is a silent film but it says so much in just under a minute. Why is it important that there is no dialogue and the film starts and ends in the same place, essentially looping forever?
KK: I wanted To Ashes to be a timeless allegory for the endless cycle of love and loss in all of our lives. Any dialogue would have grounded it in a specific situation and robbed it of that mystical, ubiquitous quality.
FAF: Since leaving Texas A&M University what have you been working on? Any fun passion projects, commissions, or experimental media?
KK: I'm currently doing a year-long artist residency in Bryan, Texas. During the residency, I've actually been focusing on traditional media: like ten-foot-long charcoal drawings of storm clouds. I missed the highly tactile nature of traditional media during the two years I was working on To Ashes, and I'd like to experiment with integrating that in a future animation project.
Krislyn Koehn is an artist working in a range of digital and traditional media. Her black and white work finds power in wonder through themes of nature, weather, and fire. She takes inspiration from her experiences living throughout Australia, Europe, and the American West.
Krislyn completed her MFA at Texas A&M University in August 2020. She earned her BS from the same department in 2016. She has also studied and taught at the Akademie fuer Internationale Bildung in Bonn, Germany.
Krislyn’s 360 VR film #IRL was screened at the 2020 Ivy Film Festival. Her traditional media pieces have exhibited across Texas and the US. She currently serves as the artist in residence for downtown Bryan, Texas.
FAF: First off, how did you get involved in animation? What drew you to the art and how long have you been animating?
KK: I've always been an artist at heart, but I grew up in a supportive-yet-practical family of engineers. I chose animation as a creative major that I could get my parents on board with. I'm very glad I did, though, and I've been animating now for almost nine years. Animation allows me to layer complex emotions and ideas in a way that’s just not possible through any other medium.
FAF: Can you tell us a little more about your process of designing the main character. It's very interesting since we see just snippets of her as she spends a lot of time in darkness, but seems to come alive with light.
KK: I have an image showing the design progression of the main character. I’ll attach it in case you’re interested.
Even when they end in pain, love and passion give our lives meaning. Without them, we lose our sense of self and purpose. This notion drove me to gradually erase the definition between my character and the void where she lives until only the firelight gave her form.
FAF: What would you most like audiences to take away from “To Ashes”?
KK: To Ashes is an ode to lost loves, failed attempts, dashed hopes, and most importantly, the anguish and courage of starting over. In relationships, careers, or self-improvement, I want to honor everyone who has chosen vulnerability and mustered the courage to try again.