The Creation Poem

 The Creation Poem - film in progress

A contemporary imagining of James Weldon Johnson's Black Gospel poem as an animated short film. 

The Project

The scope of The Creation Film Project is to yield an 8-minute fully animated film based on James Weldon Johnson's iconic poem, accompanied by spoken-word performance and original musical score.

The inspiration for this project comes from a uniquely American poem that imagines the first chapters of the book of Genesis as a powerful Black Gospel sermon. James Weldon Johnson's The Creation Poem captures both the majestic power on display at the inception of the universe and a Creator's poignant desire for intimacy that ultimately leads to the creation of humankind.

My hope is that the finished film will encourage a respect for human dignity that transcends racial and cultural identity, and perhaps inspire its audience to steward the whole of Creation, regardless of religious or political affiliation.

In Progress Animation Teaser

Early animation tests and some scenes in progress. 

Music composed by Ewart Williams

Visual Development

Concept images as we continue to explore the look and feel of the final film

Story Panels

Thumbnail story panels of key moments in the film

Central Michigan University, FRCE Research Grant

Last May I was awarded the Faculty Research and Creative Endeavors: Research Grant from Central Michigan University to support the production of The Creation Poem as an eight-minute animated film adaptation of the black gospel poem by James Weldon Johnson.

The Artists

The talented artists who have signed on to bring the Creation Poem Project to life.

Stephan Leeper

Creator, Director, Story Artist , Layout and Animation 

Storyteller, Animator & Educator

Stephan Leeper is the founding professor of two established Animation Programs and is currently teaching animation, story and filmmaking at Central Michigan University.

Steve has produced award-winning short films using stop-motion puppets, pixilation, digital cut-outs and drawn animation. Steve started his career as a freelance animator and model-maker in Chicago while leading workshops for the Chicago Children's International Film Festival. Steve went on to Big Idea Productions where he led the 3D Layout team contributing to many videos including Jonah: a VeggieTales Movie

David Chandler Bierdeman

Concept Design and Effects Animation

FX Animator, Teacher & Motivator.

David (Chad) Bierdeman is an Effect Animator for Jam-Filled Entertainment in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Chad has nearly a decade of experience contributing to award winning short films and working commercially as an effects and character animator. Chad has worked at Sky Vu and Copernicus Animation serving clients such as Disney XD, Amazon Prime, and Nickelodeon. Formerly Chad taught animation as an adjunct professor at Central Michigan University,

You can see more of his work on his animation blog at Chad Bierdeman - Demo

Bettina "Poet Gold" Wilkerson

Voice over Artist and Consultant 

Poet, Performer, and Community "Artivist"

Bettina "Poet Gold" Wilkerson pushes the boundaries of poetry and spoken word. 

Appointed the 2017 and 2018 NYS Dutchess County Poet Laureate, Poet Gold is the recipient of numerous awards. With countless recitations, she has opened for Grammy-nominated artists and has spoken at renowned organizations such as Omega Institute and Self Employment in the Arts.

Poet Gold is an activist of the heart. Her words inspire to explore the essence of humanity. To learn more about "Poet Gold" visit her website at

Ewart Williams

Composer and Musical Consultant

Performer, Musician & Composer

Ewart Williams was born in Guyana, South America, immigrated to Canada in '69 and is currently living in the United States. In '77 Ewart moved to Toronto to work in the film industry where he shared the stage with Billy Preston, Cher and other luminaries.

In recent years Ewart continues to perform regularly while expanding on his original compositions available for placement in media productions and the general public.

You can hear Ewart's original compositions at

Production Artists

CMU Animation Alum & Interns

Sammy Northrope - Color Artist and Background Designer

CMU Animation Class of 2023 - Sammy's Portfolio Site

Theodore "TJ" Nosal - Character/FX Animation and Story Artist

CMU Animation Class of 2020 - TJ's Portfolio Site

Chelsea Dunham - 2D Animator, Rigger and Story Artist

CMU Animation Class of 2023 - Chelsea's Portfolio Site

Jessie Chen - 2D Animator and Background Designer

CMU Animation Class of 2025 - Central Michigan SPAR Grant Recipient 2024

Emily Bober - 2D Animator and Background Designer

CMU Animation Class of 2024 - Central Michigan SPAR Grant Recipient 2023

Stephanie Shaw - 2D Animator and Character Designer

CMU Animation Class of 2023 - Shaw's Portfolio Site

Lindsay Moore Robertson - Experimental Animation and FX

CMU Animation Class of 2020 - Lindsay's work on Instagram / on Vimeo

Demi Huertas-Romero - Color Artist and Background Designer

CMU Animation Class of 2023
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