This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event I've been anticipating for about six months: a show at the Rice Gallery at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, called "Beyond Words: The Artistry of Illustrated Children's Books." McDaniel College, then called Western Maryland College, had been my alma mater. There, I studied Studio Art and Art History. I graduated summa cum laude with honors in Studio Art in 1999. So, how nice it was to return again: what a walk down memory lane.
Last summer, after my stint in the hospital, my mother came to stay for a week or so to help me while I recovered. I was telling her that we needed some good news; it had been a trying year. The next day, I received an email from Dr. Robert Lemieux of McDaniel College, who was curating an exhibition of children's book illustrations in conjunction with the Corcoran, the National Gallery of Art, and noted children's book collections, including the Eric Carle Museum and the de Grummond Collection.
He wanted to include one of my artworks in the show; I would be their alumni representative. Dr. Lemieux eventually chose "Bedtime Stories," my concept sketch for the dummy I am working on, "Lore and the Little Star," as the work he wanted to include. It was the good news I needed: I accepted immediately. How could I say no to being in the same hallowed company as the artists I have admired since I was a child, many of whom have won the coveted Caldecott Medal? Included in this number were such artists as Ezra Jack Keats, Eric Carle, Adrienne Adams, Paul O. Zelinsky, Mo Willems, Tomie dePaola, David Wiesner, Jerry Pinkney, and Mary Azarian, among many talented others. I have had the good fortune to meet many of these artists since coming to live in NYC. I am honored to be here among their inspiring company.
If you have ever looked at original art intended for publication, there are things you can see there that you never would in books: smudges, crop marks, and even hand-written notes. Original art has a beauty that is often lost in the printed image. Ezra Jack Keats' image from the (nearly legendary) "Snowy Day", for instance, had a depth of texture and color that I would not have expected.
Two years ago, I had met Chris Raschka, whose book, "A Ball for Daisy," had won the Caldecott Medal for 2012. Here my work hangs next to his; I hope it is a sign of good things to come. The opening was lovely; my entire family came to see it as well as some old college friends and professors. It was a happy, joyous day in the midst of so much wonderful art. Please don't miss this show!