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Pop-up: Kayla Rae Whitaker

Sat, Nov 11, 2017 from 12:15 pm - 12:45 pm PST

Kayla Rae Whitaker presents her debut novel, The Animators, in the Portland Art Museum galleries. 

Whitaker is paired with Since High School… by Gail Tremblay; found in the Native American Art, floor 3, gallery 301. Please reference the Portland Art Museum Map to find this location.


In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.

Kayla Rae Whitaker

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Joyland, Split Lip Magazine, and others. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and New York University. Her debut novel, The Animators, was a Spring 2017 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a February 2017 Book of the Month Club selection. She was also featured on Publishers Weekly’s Spring 2017 Writers to Watch list. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.
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