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White Owl

The White Owl video is an adaptation of the 1992 book, published in a small private edition, written by John LaCrosse and illustrated by Jan Serr. The original book was created as a gift for artist Schomer Lichtner on his eighty-sixth birthday, –he died at age 101 in 2006. Lichtner was Serr’s first Professor of art after transitioning her major from music at Carroll University (then Carroll College) to fine arts at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Lichtner’s teachings came to not only have a profound impact on Serr’s practice and her career, but he and his wife, fellow artist Ruth Grotenrath, became lifelong friends.

In creating the original story, Serr asked LaCrosse for a text that involved dance (Schomer loved dance), music, and painting. She also hoped that the story would include an anecdote told by Ford Madox Ford in his 1935 memoir Provence, about a stone tablet in Antibes, dating two thousand years ago, that memorialized a young boy who danced. Antibes was then a Greek colony in French Provence on the Mediterranean Sea. LaCrosse folded all of this together to create “On a Journey From Heisan To Hyogo Four Men Stopped At The Shrine Of The White Owl,” which Serr illustrated in a series of sumi-e ink drawings. In 2021, the text was slightly revised, no more than six words changed, to become the basic story of the video.

  • John LaCrosse
  • Jan Serr
    Sumi-e Ink Wash Drawings
  • Jan Serr
    Executive Producers
  • John Shannon
    Executive Producers
  • Danielle L. Paswaters
    Supervising Producer
  • Jenny Plevin
    My Way Home (2010): Supervising Producer - Golden Badger Award (Wisconsin Film Festival), Best Film, Audience Award, (Qhia Dab Neeg Film Festival (Hmong Film Festival), MN), Passing the Baton (2011): Executive Producer, Alice's Garden (2017): Director, Cinematographer, Editor - Best Short Documentary and Audience Favorite Award (Splice Film Festival, PA), Best Short Documentary (Water Docs Film Festival, Canada)
  • Allison Westbrook IV
    My Way Home (2010): Composer, Alice's Garden (2017): Sound Design, Graphics
  • Deborah Clifton
  • Jenny Plevin
    Audio Producers
  • John Tanner
    Audio Producers
  • John Tanner, Tanner-Monagle, Inc.
    Audio Recording
  • Jason Flower, Design Interchange, LLC
    Book Scans
  • Schomer Lichtner
    Dedicated to
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Runtime:
    8 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 15, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jenny Plevin

Milwaukee filmmaker Jenny Plevin’s work centers on social justice and environmental issues using video, installation and photography.

Her film Alice’s Garden (2018) tells the story of an urban garden and explores layers of meaning and connection to history, racial issues, and water. It has screened at national and international film festivals such as Atlanta DocuFest, Chicago Feminist Film Festival, Splice Film Festival (Best Short Documentary and Audience Favorite), Milwaukee Film Festival, and Water Docs Film Festival, Toronto (Best Short Film Award), as well as numerous conferences and art events.

As the Program Director for doc|UWM from 2006-2020, Jenny trained UWM film students and collaborated with over 200 community partners to produce and deliver over 200 film projects. Jenny was the Supervising Producer for docUWM's My Way Home (2010), a full-length feature documentary that chronicles a young Hmong- American woman's journey to reconnect with her past and seek answers about her family, the war, and her cultural identity. My Way Home has screened on Wisconsin Public Television, at the Wisconsin Film Festival (Golden Badger Award 2011), the Milwaukee Film Festival, the Qhia Dab Neeg Film Festival (Hmong Film Festival) in St. Paul (Best Film, Audience Award), and the Unknown Cinemas Festival in Istanbul, Turkey (2011) as well as at various community events, libraries and universities.

Jenny was the Executive Producer for another full-length feature documentary produced by doc|UWM, Passing the Baton (2012), about a successful inner-city track team in Milwaukee. The film has screened on public television and at the Milwaukee, Beloit, and Wisconsin Film Festivals. She served as producer for Poetry Everywhere I & II, in collaboration with the National Poetry Foundation, working with students to create animated videos of contemporary poetry. She was also the Producer for StoryCorps- Milwaukee, in collaboration with the national StoryCorps project, supervising the editing of multicultural and intergenerational community interviews. Other past projects include subjects such as videos on water issues, Latines in agriculture in Wisconsin, water researchers in the Great Lakes region, social justice education initiatives, a documentary music series, a series on Milwaukee neighborhoods, an interdisciplinary project documenting how racism, over-policing and criminalization affect the health of youth and communities in Milwaukee. Jenny has also created film projects for the Milwaukee Public Library System, numerous projects for the Chipstone Foundation and Black Arts MKE, and recently, The Atlas of Justice project, creating videos that draw out rich community histories, neighborhood resourcefulness, and powerful community relationships in order to creatively visualize the many meanings of justice.

Jenny has led and coordinated youth workshops in photography, video and multimedia at numerous schools and community centers in Milwaukee for the past 25 years.

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