Lynn Smith-Ary

Lynn Smith-Ary grew up in New York City. She has since lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Madison, Wisconsin. In 1975, Lynn moved to Montreal to work at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).

Lynn says she cannot remember exactly how or when she started to draw; it is something she has always done. As a young girl she would use pencils and crayons or whatever else was available. Once, after finding her grandfather’s tailor chalk in her grandparents’ “junk” drawer, she even experimented with that—though it is not a medium she would recommend. Her parents encouraged her artistic abilities. There was always a place—a table or a desk—set aside for her to paint and draw. Her mother once went so far as to offer Lynn a chance to draw on the walls. The apartment was soon to be painted, but first Lynn was given the opportunity to try her hand on a large “canvas.”

In New York City, Lynn studied painting and sculpture at The Cooper Union and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She has also earned master’s degrees from Harvard University in Teaching, and from the University of Wisconsin in Drawing. Since 1968, Lynn has completed films in both the United States and Canada, created animated segments for a number of documentaries, and taught at Concordia and McGill universities.

Lynn has worked as an artist and animation filmmaker for over thirty years. The Sound Collector and This Is Your Museum Speaking are two films for children she created for the NFB. In the 1990s, Lynn independently produced Pearl’s Diner and Sandburg’s Arithmetic. She prefers to animate “directly under the camera” with pastels, cut-outs, paints, or crayons. Lynn loves the way animation gives her artwork and characters the added dimension of movement.

Her films have won many awards, including a Genie for Pearl’s Diner. Her six-minute film Sandburg’s Arithmetic (based on Carl Sandburg’s poem Arithmetic) received a Golden Apple Award at the National Educational Media Network, the Best Animation Film Award at the Bombay International Film Festival, and a top honor at the Columbus International Film and Video Festival: the most creative and innovative film of the year.

From Daybreak to Good Night: Poems for Children (2001) is further evidence of Lynn’s long-standing admiration for the great poet’s writing. When she was a teenager, she wrote to Carl Sandburg and received a wonderful letter in reply. His words of encouragement inspired her and in some way led to the idea for this book and to the selection of the poems. Through From Daybreak to Good Night, Lynn hopes to strengthen the connection in a child’s mind between the poems and the poet—to highlight the fact that it was a real person who wrote these poems, a person deeply moved by the world around him.

Lynn (known in the film community as Lynn Smith) still resides in Montreal with her husband, musician and composer Zander Ary, who wrote the music for Lynn’s last three films.

Annick Press books
illustrated by Lynn Smith-Ary