A 28-minute documentary short about UW–Madison’s Lynda Barry, associate professor of interdisciplinary creativity in the School of Education’s Art Department, screened recently as part of this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival.

Tommasina Capelli, who graduated from UW–Madison last spring, created “A Room Alive!” as a senior class project after taking Barry’s comic drawing classes. She told Isthmus that the film “was supposed to be about 10 minutes long,” but was expanded to fit the plethora of footage she caught of Barry’s “comics room,” its students, and its teachers. “I hope this film inspires others to draw again,” Capelli says.

According to the Isthmus article previewing the film, its “central character is not so much Barry but the comics room she shared, open to all.”

“A Room Alive!” includes interviews with Barry; her colleague, Jeff Butler, a teaching faculty member in the Art Department; students, and other members of the community who have been influenced by the space she has created. All speak of the comfort Barry’s room provides, as well as its animate presence in their lives.

Students share their almost mystical encounters with the comics room — describing their experiences sleeping in the room, speaking to it, and getting inspiration and life from it.

“There’s power in this place,” Butler says.

Barry adds: “When I come in and I’m by myself in the morning, I say ‘good morning’ to the classroom and when I leave I always say ‘goodbye’ to the classroom. And not because I think it’s a good thing to do — it’s like, it’s that alive to me, that I would feel rude walking out and not saying goodbye.”