Rudi Petry’s Charming Animations Explore the Philosophy of the American South

Posted inSVA Branding: 100 Days

100 Days is an annual project at New York City’s School of Visual Arts that was founded by Michael Bierut. Each year, the students of the school’s Master’s in Branding Program spend 100 days documenting their process with a chosen creative endeavor. This year, we’re showcasing each student in the program by providing a peek into ten days of their project. You can keep an eye on everyone’s work on our SVA 100 Days page.

Rudi Petry examines how her Appalachian upbringing influenced her artistic voice by sharing the wit, wisdom, and playfulness of “Southern speak” through 100 mountain phrases. She narrates and illustrates her stories without regard for perfection to present a perspective on Southern culture that’s rooted in family, resiliency, and nature. 100 Days of Mountain Wisdom offers a glimpse into the improvisational, intimate art of speaking with a Southern voice.

Follow @RudiFafa on Instagram to keep up with the project and see more of Rudi’s work.

The best advice when you are feeling anxious and unsure about what decisions to make and you’re overthinking things might be “choose your choose.” My grandma used to say this to me, and I appreciate it, because when you make “a choice,” it’s a commitment to an outside thing, but when you choose your choose, you completely have ownership over what happened. I think that’s the key to not feeling scared about making decisions. Most fear for making choices is the unknowable nature of them, you don’t know how they’re going to turn out. But when you have a feeling of control, you don’t need to know how it’s going to work out, because you trust you’ll be able to keep that sense of agency. It’s a place of power, to choose your choose.

As a little kid, I was pretty shy around strangers, and pretty anxious— asking for things was terrifying to me. My mom would tell me, “The answer’s always no until you ask.” Looking at situations in those terms was really helpful because it gave me something solid to base my anxiety around. I could think, The answer is no now, but if I can be a little brave and go ask, perhaps the answer could be yes.

I think usually you hear this after you do something stupid. Your mom will tell you “Well when you lie with the dogs, you wake up with the fleas! There are consequences for your actions— what did you think was going to happen?” This is as much about who you associate with in your free time as it is the kind of actions you do yourself. Be warned: lie with the dogs; wake up with fleas.

How would you describe a day where you go through just about every emotion? The highs, the lows— at the end of it, you might be just confused, and overstimulated, and worn out from all of it, so you’d say, “I’ve been feeling every which way.”

To get you out of the house, Great-Grandma would say, “Go in yonder!” We would tease her— “Where is yonder?” and she would say, “Just pick a yonder, and go!”

Yonder used this way, I love— it’s limitless when you think of yonder not as “over there,” but instead, anywhere. Whatever the elsewhere is, go into that yonder.

If somebody comes in and starts talking about how Cheerwine in the best soda that ever was, but you happen to know that Ale-8-1 is the best soda, you might tell them so. And instead of beating your ass outright, they might give you a warning and say, “Them’s fighting words!” so you can reconsider.

Have you heard of the Danish word “hygge”? Its a mood of coziness and comfort that goes along with being at home. Well, in the South, when you’re at home wasting your time doing little bits of chores, or moving your stack of magazines from one table to the next, or wandering around your house staring out the window— that’s called “piddling.”

One of the loveliest times to be around mountains is in the morning, because the mist and fog roll around between them, and it’s so lovely. I have a lot of memories with my mamaw, riding around in her truck and seeing the mists in the morning. There’s little tendrils that pull out of I assume little caves and things, and one way to describe the little bits of mists is to say “the groundhogs are brewing their morning coffee.”

The next time you overeat, and feel bloated and overstuffed, you can say you are “full as a tick.” It’s not pretty, but it perfectly describes that terrible feeling when you overindulge.

Anger in Southern culture is often seen as something reserved and held back— the whole “Bless your heart,” say-something-without-saying-it angle. But there’s another side of especially Appalachian anger which is explosive, and dramatic, and comical. When you’re “fit to be tied,” it means you’re so worked up that someone’s got to tie you down so you don’t go berserk. Maybe it’s just my feminism talking, but I personally like having the two options.