Nicole Emmons-WillisFrom Pops To Heidi, 1971 (detail, 2016) | Domesti City, OK

Nicole Emmons-Willis is an artist specializing in stop motion animation, based out of Oklahoma City. She is a Jacob K. Javits Fellow, with an MFA from the CalArts Experimental Animation program, a BA in Animation and Film from Columbia College Chicago, and a proud member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Her films have screened internationally at numerous film festivals, and she has worked professionally in animation and film and video production for many years.

Emmons-Willis is very interested in artificial life, whether via puppetry, stop motion, animatronics, carnivals, inflatables, mannequins, miniatures, or animation, and the exploration of scale. When not working in the studio she enjoys bringing the love of animation to students both young and old, and offers classes in her craft currently at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, and Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and Oklahoma City University.


Artist Statement | As a visual storyteller, I strive to create environments that are both familiar and otherworldly. I use narrative as a device to lead viewers through the symbolism and surrealism of personal mythologies.

Using experimental filmmaking, stop motion animation, and puppetry, I investigate the notion of reality, challenging our sense of what is safe and comfortable versus what is unsettling or disturbing. Through the presentation of unusual characters, I examine fantasy worlds to present concepts which are often considered taboo.

Curator’s Statement | The desire to be free is universal for men and women.  This exhibition examines domesticity through the life of Jane, a 1970s era woman who loves her husband and loves country music. However, Jane does not love the monotony of household responsibility and escapes the humdrum of chores through role play and daydreams.

Domesti City, OK is a study of nostalgia, relationships, and escapist fantasies. During an era when gender roles within a household were (are) being challenged, we are asked to contemplate our experiences with domesticated life. 

Utilizing the dollhouse as the setting for cinematic vignettes, Jane is brought to life through stop motion animation. The technique provides glimpses into an alternate miniaturized world which is is both fantastical and challenging.

This exhibition was created with help from Andy Willis, Tessa Raven, Mandy Messina, Gabriel Oglesby, Ashton Kohl-Arnoldy, Julie Yang, Kiana Daneschmand, Marisa Brown, Meghan Knight, Elena Farrar, Judi Melot, Alva Melot, Barney Karper, Lindsay Bryant Auvenshire, Marilyn Karper, Michelle Emmons, Sheridan McMichael, Trent Lawson, BC Summers, and the OCU Moving Image Arts Program.