Sally Cruikshank

Published April 30, 2009 by Graham

If you grew up watching Sesame Street in the 80s or early 90s, chances are you were forever impacted by the work of animator Sally Cruikshank. Sandwiched in between Elmo and Cookie Monster, her seemingly innocent cartoons were so surreal and uncanny, they became truly subversive on an aesthetic level. The impact of Cruikshank’s influence is evident in the color-saturated, surreal work that pervades the current generation of experimental animators and cartoonists. Sesame Street classics like “Island of Emotion” and “Above it All” could easily fit into a gallery space today (can’t you see the YouTube description for the latter, “An alligator girl spins her fez propellor and flies in sync to music,” transposed upon a classy white label next to a monitor?). If there isn’t already, there should be a required course about the work of Sally Cruikshank at RISD.

The clip above, “Face Like a Frog,” comes from a collaboration with mad musical genuis Danny Elfman for MTV’s early 90s animation orgy, Liquid Television. Almost all of Cruikshank’s work is completely D.I.Y.– conceived, drawn, and animated by the master herself– today, she even forgoes the hassle of voice actors in favor of computerized voices. Seeminly ignored by both the mainstream media as well as the art establishment, Cruikshank’s still at it, using YouTube to distribute unnerving tales of erotic appliances and telepathic cars. Check out a fascinating interview with the artist from 1980 below, as she passionately describes the power of animation.

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2 comments so far

  1. Aaron A. says:


    i was reading this blog and wondering when one of you would post something about sally. she is truly one of the most under-appreciated artists of our time.


  2. Gayzor says:

    This is super similar to Forbidden Zone.