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Work Samples

Unicorn Constellation

Unicorn constellation shadow puppet
This piece ends with shadow puppets of various animals of the zodiac jumping through a ring of lunar phases.

Hazel Crankie 2

"Black Lung" spoke out against the mistreatment of coal miners
This crankie is is about the life of Hazel Dickens. This scene speaks about her powerful song Black Lung which spoke out against the mistreatment of coal miners, like her brother, who never left West Virginia. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.

Between Monument and Montford

Collaborators at the Creative Alliance
Robin, Felix, Dennis, and I after sharing the arabber crankie at the Creative Alliance's crankie festival.

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About Katherine

Baltimore City

Katherine Fahey's picture
I am a storyteller, papercut artist, and puppeteer. I mainly make crankies, a form of visual art performance that involves a box containing a scroll of artwork. The scroll is attached to rods with cranks at the top. As the cranks are turned the scroll moves across the front of the box, where the viewer can see the artwork.  I'm a formally trained artist with a degree in sculpture from MICA, however over ten years ago I started my foray into puppetry after seeing some shadow puppet shows and... more

Hazel Dickens crankies

In 2020 I was commissioned by Willow Garden Films to make two crankies for a documantary about Baltimore musician, folk legend, and activist Hazel Dickens. Many citizens moved to Baltimore to work in factories, to escape the poverty and coal mines of West Virgina. Hazel and her siblings were some of these hard working poor. Hazel went on to become a bastion of the folk music community in Baltimore and then in DC. She also wrote songs of protest bringing awareness to the dangers of the coal mining industry and sexism. I can't share video yet, since the film has not yet been released. 

  • Lost Patterns crankie

    The worn out linoleum
    This crankie is based on Hazel Dicken's song Lost patterns. The song speaks of the struggles of working class life, through descriptions of the house where an unhappy person lives alone. The fading of the patterned linoleum floor seems to be a metaphor particularly inspired by mid-century Baltimore. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.
  • Lost patterns crankie

    Kitchen scene
    This crankie is based on Hazel Dicken's song Lost patterns. The song speaks of the struggles of working class life, through descriptions of the house where an unhappy person lives alone. In this scene mice run rampant, showing the neglect of this mid-century household. I used handmade papers for this scene to achieve grittier textures. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.
  • Hazel crankie 2

    Hazel and Alice
    This crankie is is about the life of Hazel Dickens. This scene speaks about her long time musical partnership with Alice Gerard. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.
  • Hazel Crankie 2

    "Black Lung" spoke out against the mistreatment of coal miners
    This crankie is is about the life of Hazel Dickens. This scene speaks about her powerful song Black Lung which spoke out against the mistreatment of coal miners, like her brother, who never left West Virginia. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.
  • Hazel crankie 2

    Her song about the mistreatment of women
    This crankie is is about the life of Hazel Dickens. This scene speaks about a song she wrote about the mistreatment of women. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.
  • Hazel crankie 2

    Musical hero, George Jones
    This crankie is is about the life of Hazel Dickens. This scene speaks about her aspirations and her heroes, like George Jones. * A crankie or moving panorama is an old fashioned form of visual performance, device. It is a hand cranked scroll in a box. The artwork is rolled around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera. This crankie combines papercuts and shadow puppetry.

Between Monument and Montford

This shadow puppet crankie piece is based on interviews with Robin Reid, Dan Van Allen,  and the Arabbers* of Baltimore City. It is the story of a young african amercan girl and the magic that the Baltimore Arabbers brought to her neighborhood and her life. Thanks to arabbers who run a stable behing my house and Dan Van Allan, former president of the Arabber Preservation Society I have gotten to know and admire this community as neighbors, collaborators, and as a Baltimore heritage. 

*Arabbers are horse cart vendors. Baltimore is the last city in the US to have Arabbers. The word Arabber comes from the Turkish word for horseman. 

  • Between Monument and Montford

    Robin speaks of her wonder excitement when the Arabbers would arrive
    This is the scene when Robin speaks of her wonder excitement when the Arabbers would arrive in her neighborhood with their beautiful horse drawn carts; the colors, sounds, and the fruit.
  • Between Monument and Montford

    Our door was blue; cerulean blue.
    Robin reminisces here how each door on her Baltimore street was a different color.
  • Between Monument and Montford

    I remember waking up to their calls.
    In this part of the story, Robin talks about waking up to the sounds of an arabber coming down the street.
  • Between Monument and Montford

    They were Santa; tropical Santa
    In this part of the story Robin describes how magical the arabbers were and how kids associated them with Santa Claus.
  • Between Monument and Montford

    Collaborators at the Creative Alliance
    Robin, Felix, Dennis, and I after sharing the arabber crankie at the Creative Alliance's crankie festival.
  • Performing outside

    Each door was a different color
    We did a special sunset show for a visiting artist form Puerto Rico, using the light of the sun to backlight the crankie.

The Raven

Projected shadow puppet crankie based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, commissioned by The Peabody School of Music.  Paper and Tyvek scroll. Poster board and foam core puppets and overhead projections.

This shadow puppet show is a combination of various shadow puppetry techniques, incorporating a pop-up book, lazy susans, moving human figures, and overhead projectors. Everything was hand cut with a hobby knife.

This piece was originally performed with Tim Kearly, Valeska Populoh, Eamon Epsey, Channing Showalter, Lisa Kraus, Nick Sjostrom,  and Burke Sampson at The Peabody School of Music on Halloween night of 2016, accompanied by an original musical score and sound effects by Nick Sjostrom and Burke Sampson.

Yorktown Museum project

In 2015 I collaborated with Cortina productions, a film company that makes historical films for museums, approached me about making a giant shadow puppet crankie* for a film, I was pretty excited.
The film is about a traveling story teller, who uses a crankie to tell oral histories of the American revolution through 6 different people who lived through it. (among them, a housewife, a native american man, and an african american man). These are actual oral histories of people who lived at the time. It was an inspiring and educational experience working with producer, Brent Feito and a curator/historian, Katherine Gruber of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
I got to spend months researching, story boarding, making sample scenes, and finally making the final piece. The images are based on artwork and aesthetics of the period. In order to make the deadline friend and colleague, Caleb Stine, worked full time hand cutting paper and glueing down scenes with me for over a month. Some other folks who lent a hand during construction were Annie Howe, Lisa Krause, Christine Sajecki, and Eamon Espey. We ended up with three scrolls, some of which are over eighty feet long. Everything was hand cut with a hobby knife.

It was especially moving to be working on this piece about these questions of freedom and human rights as the riots broke out in Baltimore this year. It felt all the more meaningful and powerful to be revisiting these questions in my work.
After the crankie was done, I finally arrived in Virginia, where they had been filming all the stories I had illustrated on the crankie in live action. Michael Lamason and Valeska Populoh of Baltimore's Black Cherry Puppet Theater came to Virginia where we performed the crankie in period dress for the film.
This has been an exciting and challenging project. The rough cut looks great and I can't wait to see the the final edit of the film. In the meantime there is an exhibit of the making of the film on display at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
The film has been  available to the public since December 2016.

*A crankie or moving panorama is a scroll of artwork in a box, often illustrating a story or song that it is presented with. The ream of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.

  • Sea Battle

    Sea battle at Yorktown
    This scene is a depiction of a famous sea battle at Yorktown. I used different colors of paper to make some ships appear further away.
  • Handmade papercut

     Papercut influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch
    Everything in this piece and all my work in hand-cut. This papercut was influenced by Pennsylvania Dutch papercut artists of the time period. I worked closely with historian Kate Gruber on this project. Since this was made for a history museum it was very important to them that everything was historically accurate.
  • Yorktown foundation commission

    American Revolution Museum at Yorktown commission
    Giant shadow puppet crankie for a film for the revolutionary war museum in Yorktown. 4 feet x 6 feet Tyvek, paper, poster board.
  • Caleb and I working

    American Revolution Museum at Yorktown commission
    Here Caleb Stine and I are gluing down a scene of the Boston harbor. Caleb was a huge help on this huge project with tight deadlines.
  • Boston

    A fight in Boston
    This scene depicts and fight that broke out in Boston. The figures all appear to be the same. This style is an imitation of artists of that time, like Paul Revere.
  • Storyboards and samples

    Sample Scene of Boston for the museum
    I had to work closely with historians and museum staff on this project. They wanted to make sure the piece was historically accurate. I had to submit sample scenes before I could get the go ahead to begin creating full size ones.
  • The house scene

    Gluing down the house scene.
    This complex scene was inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch Papercuts. This is the home of a woman whose oral history was included in the film. Here, after much research, many drawings, prototypes, and cutting Caleb Stine and I are finally gluing it down.

"Fish" A Music Video, Installation, and live performance

I spent the first part of this year working on a shadow puppet show for a music video for Baltimore band, Wye Oak. I had a lot of fun creating the characters for this underwater world and the process of working with film was a new and exciting experience for me.

Video Credits:
Songwriters: Wye Oak (Jenn Wasner, Andy Stack)
Producers: Anne and Stewart Stack
Director of Photography: Michael Patrick O'Leary
Art Director/Paper cutter/puppeteer: Katherine Fahey
Editor: Owen Lang
Puppeteer: Scott Dennison
Puppeteer: Shari Edelson
Paper Cutters: Katie Field, Scott Dennison, Robin Reid, Brook Kearley, Annabel Kearley, Shari Edelson, Elodie Rabilloud
Gaffer: Matt Brennan
B Camera Operator: Nick Midwig
Camera Assistant: Neal Golden

Photos by Neal J Golden

  • Wye Oak video - Fish

    A large paper fish backed with film grade colored gels.
  • End of the live show

    On stage, with most of the performance crew, in front of the large shadow puppet screen at the Metro Gallery. Thaks to Michael O'leary, Jenn Wasner, Ashlie Kaufman, Owen Lang, Matt Muirhead, the entire Stack Family, and Katie Kuafarri.
  • Live show at the Metro Gallery

    Andy Stack, keeping in time with the performance.
  • Paper Fish installation

    Metro Gallery Installation Lighting for show and performance by Michael Patrick O'Leary and Serious Grip. All these tiny silver and blue fish were installed by Kyle Reinheart and Lisa Dietrich.
  • Paper fish installation

    After we finished the video, I spent a week hanging an installation at the Metro Gallery of the puppets. I made a 32 foot wave piece for the the exhibit and additional puppets in order to put on a live performance of the shadow puppets show from the video. Lighting for show and performance by Michael Patrick O'Leary and Serious Grip.
  • Filming puppets on the diffusion screen

    The filming process was a great adventure. I was lucky to be surrounded by a supportive and knowledgable crew.
  • Puppeteering

    Scott Dennison, Shari Edelson, and I working a 3 man puppet during the filming of the video.
  • Wye Oak Music Video - Fish

    Director: Fahey/O'Leary/Stack DP: Michael Patrick O'Leary Art Director: Katherine Fahey Editor: Owen Lang Song: Wye Oak
  • Filming

    Filming the video at Serious Grip and Electric.
  • Paper Ocean

    Papercut, tyvek, 6x4 feet, January 2011. Katie Field and Scott Dennison both helped me cut some of these waves. It was the most labor intensive part of the project.

I Know Moonrise

This shadow puppet show takes us on a journey into the past and into the marshes of Georgia, telling the story of a boy who discovers a family secret, faces it, become transformed by it. This piece is a combination of various shadow puppetry techniques, incorporating mirrors and moving human figures, overhead projectors, and a crankie*. Everything was hand cut with a hobby knife.

This piece was originally performed with The Kearly family, Valeska Populoh, Caleb Stine, and Jay Dilisio at The Peabody School of Music on Halloween night of 2015, accompanied by an original musical score by Caleb Stine.

*A crankie or moving panorama is a scroll of artwork in a box, often illustrating a story or song that it is presented with. The ream of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.
(Video forthcoming.)

Shadow Puppet Crankie - Francis Whitmore's wife

Shadow puppet crankie*, based on a song about one colonial woman's struggle to survive a Vermont winter on her own in the mid-18th century.

This piece has been sung it a Capella mostly, but on occasion with a guitarist or fiddler.

Song written by Carole Moody Crompton
Video by Michael Patrick O'Leary
Paper cutting assistance by MICA intern, Raj Bannag

*A crankie or moving panorama is a scroll of artwork in a box, often illustrating a story or song that it is presented with. The ream of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.

Pickett's Charge shadow puppet crankie and ellen cherry music video

Pickett's Charge is a shadow puppet crankie (see definition below). It's the story of a young girl's inner questions about war and the universe.

This exciting venture which began with singer songwriter ellen cherry's poignant song of the same name. We filmed the video with Mike O'Leary over one weekend. He orchestrated the lighting cues so that it was one continuous shot.

*A crankie or moving panorama is a scroll of artwork in a box, often illustrating a story or song that it is presented with. The ream of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.

Video Credits:
Song: "Pickett's Charge" from "Please Don't Sell the Piano"
Songwriter/Performer: ellen cherry
Puppet Show: Katherine Fahey
Director of Photography: Michael Patrick O'Leary
Sound: Nick Sjostrom
Crank Box Construction: Neal Golden
Lights: Shaun Wilson and Neal Golden
Editing: Matt Riggieri

I Don't Feel Dead Yet

This Shadow Puppet Crankie* illustrates an old african american ghost story adapted by Craig Dominey and Veronica Byrd. We follow a couple's humorous journey to letting go, Louisianna style. Jay Dilisio accompanies on fiddle. Everything was hand cut with a hobby knife.

*A crankie or moving panorama is a scroll of artwork in a box, often illustrating a story or song that it is presented with. The ream of paper or fabric rolled around 2 posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.

You can see a video here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gew0PM10mqE

Where stars come from

In 1806 two sisters in England published a book of thier peotry fro children. One of them is a song sung all over the world to this day. This Shadow Puppet Crankie was a commision for Kentucky Educational Television Foundation based on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Video available here. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KZLDh4N9YY

  • Unicorn Constellation

    Unicorn constellation shadow puppet
    This piece ends with shadow puppets of various animals of the zodiac jumping through a ring of lunar phases.
  • The Traveler

    The traveler in the dark
    This little known verse of the song goes, the traveler in the dark thanks you for your tiny spark.
  • Diamonds

    Like a diamond in the sky
    This well known verse goes, Up above the clouds so high, like a diamond in the sky. Even the smallest children know the words and often sing along. These diamonds are cut from origami paper.
  • Filming

    Film shoot
    Here we are filming The star in Michael O'Leary's studio in Woodberry.

Katherine's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.