“Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland” Brooklyn Museum NYC 2015

In 2008 I made an animated music video for the song “Persist” by the Melbourne band All India Radio, the animation was based on the story of Topsy the Coney Island elephant electrocuted by Thomas Edison. My sister Marita Dyson created the illustrations and Isobel Knowles assisted me with the animating.

In 2015 the animation was curated as part of the exhibition “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland 1861 – 2008” which opened at Brookly Museum, along with works by Diane Arbus, Walker Evans, and Joseph Stella.


I attended the opening at Brooklyn Museum and was thrilled to see the animation displayed on a screen, on a loop with the original and very graphic film by Thomas Edison “Electrocution of Topsy”, as a key part of the section that told the story of Topsy and her life at Coney Island. It was an honor to be part of the exhibition, and it was also wonderful to meet the curators from The Wadsworth Atheneum who had originally conceived of the exhibition and to hear how they came across my animated tribute to Topsy online.


The exhibition toured nationally showing at The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford CT, San Diego Museum of Art (July 11, 2015 – October 13, 2015) and McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas, (May 11, 2016 – September 11 2016).

From April 2017 Persist will be included in an adapted version of the exhibition that over the next five years will travel to venues in underserved communities in the US.

A fully illustrated, beautiful  304-page catalogue of the exhibition was published by Yale University Press, here is the write-up on my animation from its pages…