Staff Spotlight: Jensun Yonjan
May 13, 2020
This week Jensun Yonjan, our Teen Media Program Manager talks to Angelica about working with teens,
finding the Community Art Center, and animating during his quarantine.
A: My first question for you is: Tell us about yourself and role your at Community Art Center.
J: I am the Teen Media Arts Program Manager at the Community Art Center. Previously, I was hired as the
Teen Media Coordinator by my previous director. I have been here at the Art Center for two and a half years. I teach Film, Photography, and Graphic Design and I have done a few projects leading teen artists in those mediums. Before I was hired at Community Art Center, I was involved in youth work since college. During college, I was also starting filmmaking and media production and then, in college, in the summertime, I would go volunteer at this organization in Nepal for two or three summers. I made a documentary about the school there, which is also how I really got into filmmaking and then after graduation, I was looking a for a job over the summer and I found this organization in Cambridge with Harvard University. There, I was teaching an ESL class and that's when I learned that there was actually a field for my background in media. I was like: “I wanna start looking for jobs where I could teach media and be around young people.” I had moved away from my parents and while I was waiting tables, I came across Community Art Center and I applied and had an interview and that’s how I got into youth work and teaching filmmaking and leading the film festival.
A: How do you exercise creativity inside and outside of the classroom?
J: I think implementing creativity in the classroom comes from my creativity outside the classroom and in my personal time. Aside from my class, I have a few side projects I keep myself busy with, some collage projects, photography, graphic design. I’ll learn a new process and then “think maybe I could incorporate this into my class.” One particular example is, in short films there are specific scenes that set the story and have sequences that lead to the main story of the film followed by more scenes shot at different frame sizes. I implemented that into the classroom as a lesson plan. I gave my teens three random objects and they had to create a story with those and turn that into a video with three scenes with different frame sizes.
A: What’s your favorite part of working with youth and at Community Art Center?
J: For me, personally, I got into youth work cause there were a couple of individuals I looked up to when Ii was in high school and those relationships really impacted me towards being the person I am today and doing the work I have been doing here. I felt very important in those relationships in my high school years and when I was into photography and graphic design. I can only imagine if there was a space for me like the Art Center to practice my craft and then classes while getting paid, that could have impacted me a lot, in terms of building my portfolio and applying to colleges. However, I did not have that space in my town in Connecticut. I appreciate that there is a position where I can build my craft and work with teens. It was a perfect scenario for someone who wanted to build a portfolio as an artist and be that person for high schoolers. The other thing about the art center is the creative freedom I enjoy in the lesson plans, inviting visiting artists and implementing exercises I enjoy.
A: I heard you say earlier you worked on a documentary in Nepal. Where can people find your art?
J: The documentary is up on YouTube, but I don’t have an actual website.
A: What have you been up to lately that has been keeping you sane? Any new art?
J: I am working on a papercut animation short film. I’ve been working on creating a personal narrative with all of this time at home. I have enough time to reflect and think about how I wanna tell this narrative. I have been at home making papercut figures, trying out different sizes of papercuts, looking at videos on lighting and doing test runs so it will be easy when I actually go to shoot it. So in short, just working on this personal narrative of my personal experience of moving to the United States.
A: That is super impressive. Animating takes a ridiculous amount of time to do really simple things and the process is very arduous.
J: It’s a lot, but I am trying to just take it slow. It doesn’t have to be a rush, just trying to enjoy the process of being like, “if I have to take 30 frames for one motion, I’ll do that, but I’ll take it slowly.” But the process of making the paper figures is what attracted me to this type of project, rather than just the end product.
A: I remember trying 3D animation in college and it was a painful experience. 3D modeling doable, 3D animation: whole different story.
J: I have seen videos of animators going frame by frame and showing the 3D figures that they have to move around a 3D. Have you seen Isle of Dogs? That’s a really cool animation.
A: I have not, but I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is also by the same director. Those movies are so meticulous. Well, thanks for taking the time to talk to me today. See you at zoom Film Club….eventually when I am less busy.
J: Thank you very much. I really enjoyed the conversation.