Sue Nichols Maciorowski dies

Sue Nichols Maciorowski, a Disney Animation artist whose contributions in visual development and story art helped shape the Disney Renaissance, has died. She was 55 years old.

Disney Animation artist Maciorowski, who legacy at the House of Mouse helped build its animation department into the titan it is today, died at 55, according to the Disney Animation Twitter. Maciorowski worked on shows and movies such as Muppet Babies, Hercules, Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog, The Lion King, Aladdin, Mulan, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lilo & Stitch, and Moana.

“We’re deeply saddened by the passing of Sue Nichols Maciorowski, an influential visual development and story artist who helped define the design and narratives of the films of the Disney Renaissance and beyond,” Disney Animation said in a statement.

The account continued to lay out all of Maciorowski’s amazing achievements, including influencing the Greek art-inspired style of Hercules, defining the “Greek design” and supervising “the look of the film across layout, animation, effects, color styling and more.” The title “Production Stylist” was created for her work on this film.

But perhaps most memorably, Maciorowski was the mind behind The Princess and the Frog‘s Harlem Renaissance-inspired style, helping storyboard and design the eye-popping sequence for Tiana’s song “Almost There.” It’s a sequence that took inspiration from Harlem Renaissance artists such as Aaron Douglas, whom Maciorowski suggested. The suggestion paid off: “Almost There” is one of the most exciting and vibrant sequences in the film, and a testament to the 2D nature of the film, a medium which Disney has sadly since abandoned.

Animator and director Eric Goldberg said in a statement, “She will be sadly missed by those of us who had the good fortune to work with her, but her influence on those films will be there forever.”

Maciorowski, who hails from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and taught at CalArts, won an Emmy for her work on the Jim Henson show Muppet Babies. On Beauty and the Beast, she contributed to both visual development and story and created early visual development artwork for Aladdin, according to Disney Animation. She also played a key role in creating the character design and visual development on The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Lilo & Stitch.

It’s a sad week for the company on both the animation side and in its movie division. The loss hits Disney just as the company is struggling to recover from another major loss with the death of Chadwick Boseman last week, after the Black Panther actor died from cancer after a four-year battle.

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