Kathleen Laughlin, ’68
They weren’t called “indie filmmakers” at the time, yet that’s what Kathleen Laughlin became. Assigned in 1967 to animate a short film “about the eye,” she happily dropped printmaking and graphic design for a full professional life in documentary and personal-film work.
Laughlin is best known for medium- and long-form documentaries about social or regional issues: Hispanic immigrants to Minnesota, menopause, battered women, the environment, her own mother’s independent youth. But she first made a mark with personal, intimate mixtures of live-action film and animation, such as Madsong (a “woman-seeking-awareness” film) and My People are my Home (a profile of poet Meridel LeSeuer).
Laughlin fondly recalls an MCAD instructor insisting that “a class could be a little community,” so she’s expert with camera and editing on multiple collaborative productions. These were often feminist efforts – “we named our causes, and made clear we were ‘the other half of the sky.’ But the 'total light' of the sky is what’s important!”