A couple handfuls of years ago I taught art to boys in a city lock-up. I was the art component of an in-jail school so the teen-age detainees didn’t miss too much education as they waited for the court system to process their case. Coming up with projects to keep five back-to-back classes of the most attention deficit’d students in the city was a challenge to say the least.

The assignments they responded to best were, oddly, the ones that required meticulous attention, dexterity, and patience: weaving, origami, silk-screening and animation.

For animation I had the students make a thirty frame animation with each cell drawn on a 4″ square of paper. Using a standard HI-8 video camera, each student then ‘animated’ his drawings in-camera by filming each frame in the time it took to turn the camera on and off (about half a second).

The initial animations were rudimentary but once the magic of animation was demystified I couldn’t introduce another lesson plan because everyone was addicted. I had to wait for the gears of the justice system to circulate out most of the students before I could move on to something else