Artist of the Month: Makena Binker-Cosen

Mairin Quillen, Layout Manager

By Mairin Quillen

Two cartoonish characters appear in a brightly colored room, discover a book about Ancient Greek culture and proceed to hunt down their professor, who teaches them about the legacy left behind by the Greeks throughout the arts and sciences.

Junior Makena Binker-Cosen produced this video for her fifth grade English class. According to Binker-Cosen, she first made the video after realizing it was possible to use Powerpoint for simple animation, and she subsequently developed a permanent passion for making videos.

Her resumé has greatly expanded since. Her YouTube channel counts 33 different videos, some animated sketches and others in live action. She has been taking digital video courses since arriving in Brookline from Argentina during her freshman year.

Art teacher Krissie Fraser said she was immediately impressed by Binker-Cosen’s motivation.

“When she first came here, she sent me an email because my digital video class was full and she was making a case for me lifting the lid so that she could get in,” Fraser said. “She sent me links to some work that she had already done, and I was like, ‘This girl obviously needs to foster her love of digital art, so we’ll lift the lid and let her in,’ and she has not stopped ever since.”

Binker-Cosen frequently collaborates with junior Evan Paris, who says that he most of all enjoys working on projects that aren’t related to school.

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“I would say that Makena is very hard working.  She focuses really well and is very organized, and she also has a lot of fun. She has a lot of good ideas on how to make things more interesting, funny, enjoyable to watch,” Paris said.

In addition to acting in and co-directing her videos, Binker-Cosen has added to her knowledge of digital music production and Adobe AfterEffects in order to enhance her work. She also draws and writes poems in her spare time and says that her main inspiration is her relationships to others.

“I feel like my inspiration is just having good relationships with people,” Binker-Cosen said. “It pushes me and motivates me to go forward and make videos. My family, my mentors, my teachers: all the people push you to make your mark for something significant. “

Binker-Cosen continues to make videos as an independent study and has recently completed her final project on emergency preparation for her internship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. She says that this internship helped her realize the importance of creating work with a specific purpose.

“Over the summer I’ve grown to realize how much public health matters and I think that I might start making videos about public health more frequently just because I think it’s a message worth advocating for,” Binker-Cosen said. “Art can be really pretty, but without a message driving it, it’s just pretty: there’s no depth to it. You need a message to make art because it’s not just a drawing, a scratch on a paper, it’s something with intent, something another person is supposed to receive and be able to grow from as well.”