In 2008, Tiny Circus was established as a collaborative and community-based art project. The Circus uses the medium of stop-motion animation to create and tell stories. 

Tiny Circus travels to host stop-motion animation workshops for all ages at schools and universities, art and film festivals, museums and galleries.  A core group of Circus members facilitates each workshop, and the participants become members of the circus – we now number over 1000!

Read on to learn a bit about the history of the circus, then click on the links above to find out how to host the circus or participate in a workshop or summer session.



A partial list of our partnering institutions:

Baltimore School for the Arts
Citizen Jane Film Festival, Missouri
Albion College, Albion, Michigan
Des Moines Art Festival
ICON Gallery, Fairfield, Iowa
Arrowmont School of Art and Craft
University of Michigan
United Action for Youth, Iowa City, Iowa
Boys and Girls Club of Newark, Delaware
Delaware Center for Contemporary Art
University of Wisconsin
University of Southeastern Louisiana
MLK School, New Orleans, Louisiana
Marion Arts Festival, Marion, Iowa

Tiny Circus was born out of a desire to create art collaboratively and a commitment to making that art an interactive and community-based endeavor. 

Tiny Circus collaborates with community partners to facilitate the creation of their own stop-motion animation.  The short films are alternate “histories” of objects, occurrences, and ideas – like popcorn, war, or adaptation. 

The new animation is then presented as part of our show "The Other Histories of the World" as a finale to the workshop. Thus, our audiences can see animations created by their own community members in the context of animations created elsewhere.

Tiny Circus works with groups large and small, old and young, collaboratively. Our process starts a brainstorm that leads to a scenario for an animation. Next, we make a storyboard - a sort of step by step plan for how the animation will look and sound. Then we build sets and characters.

Shooting the animation is a time-intensive process, best done in a group. Each frame of the film is shot as a photograph, then the characters are manipulated by hand, and another photograph is taken. We make music and record sound effects for the story. Afterwards, the photographs are edited together to make the film.

Every Tiny Circus workshop and show is unique - as unique as the local communities we work with. Workshops can last from a few hours to a few weeks - and involve just a few people or a large group.

Tiny Circus travels with a magic lantern - a tiny airstream trailer - outfitted with solar panels, a projector, and a sound system. We started with a 26' long trailer, originally built in 1965. The body was deconstructed down to the frame and reconfigured in the smaller size. Our 10' wide screen pops out of the back, and at dusk we can entertain hundreds!

Our films are short and entertaining. Our theme, "The Other Histories of the World," encourages a fresh interpretation of all that seems commonplace.  Tiny Circus audiences and members experiment with the art of everyday life. 

We mean to make animations that re-open eyes and minds to the world of imagination, to suggest that behind every thing you see in this world, there is a beautiful, funny, or scary story.

These images are still photographs from our films. Click the thumbnail to view the animation on our YouTube page.