ESCONDIDO–The Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido will present a multi-media exhibition Writing with Pictures in July.
The upcoming exhibit colorfully tells the story behind the creation of the picture book, why we love them, and their widening audience and role in the 21st century. Curated by Joy Chu, Writing with Pictures will be open in The Museum from July 11 to September 13. The exhibition, the first of its kind in San Diego, features original published artwork from local illustrators, and from artists working with local writers. For additional information, please visit artcenter.org/museum.
Children’s picture books are all about the art of visual storytelling. It begins with the author’s words. The illustrator, in turn, is tasked with fleshing out the story, beyond what words are unable to convey. In the best examples, a wholly new dimension is created when the reader brings their own perspective into the mix. Books with less than 200 words — some with none — are at the forefront, alongside the hybrid graphic novel. As wordless picture books grow in popularity, we see that illustrations alone can tell a compelling story. These stories are often provided by an author.
With an increased emphasis on the visual in books in recent years, as opposed to words and length, Southern California is fertile with children’s book storytelling activity. Writing with Pictures celebrates many of these creators and the stories behind their creations. In an age of increased digital dependence, parents are once again placing importance on connecting with their children through reading picture books.
Joy Chu, the art director and designer of numerous picture books, and instructor of “Illustrating Children’s Books” at UC San Diego Extension, comments, “This is an exciting time for the picture book genre. While initially aimed at young children, adults are drawn to them by virtue of being parents, teachers, or librarians. We have grown to expect image driven storytelling in the 21st century. I’m pleased to bring together a cross-section of artists and writers who are pushing the boundaries, many from the San Diego and Los Angeles regions, and beyond. Unlike other such group shows, ours share their process — the inspiration, the outtakes and re-dos. Viewers will experience the thrill of story, and the stories behind them.”
Among the award-winning artists and authors are two-time Caldecott Medal honoree Marla Frazee (illustrator, Is Mommy? The Farmer and the Clown, All The World, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever!), Caldecott Medal honoree Antointette Portis (writer and illustrator, Wait, Froodle, Not A Box), and 2012 Caldecott Honor winner John Rocco (writer and illustrator, Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep!, Blackout, Blizzard).
“Reading Rainbow” advocate and actor/director LeVar Burton brings his first published children’s book, The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm, in collaboration with San Diegans Susan Schaefer Bernardo and Courtenay Fletcher, to the distinguished group of picture book creators.
Additional notable San Diego writers featured include Kathleen Krull (author, Beatles Were Fab, and They Were Funny, Fartiste, Lives of the Explorers, ”M” is for Music), winner of The Children’s Book Guild’s “Nonfiction Award” for her body of work; Cindy Jenson-Elliott (Weeds Find a Way, an ALA 2015 Notable Book Selection); Edith Hope Fine (Sleepytime Me, Armando and the Blue Tarp School, Cryptomania); Marcie Wessels (Pirate’s Lulluby); and Marcia Berneger (Buster The Little Garbage Truck).
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and U-T San Diego political cartoonist Steve Breen is also among the San Diego group, with his books Big Bad Baby (by Los Angeles author Bruce Hale), Pug & Doug, and Violet the Pilot.
For the third consecutive summer, the Center celebrates the artwork of students in all grades currently enrolled in any public, private, charter, or home study program in the Juried Student Competition. This competition will feature student work on display in conjunction with the exhibition of published work. Student artists are invited to explore storytelling through illustrations. Submissions are open through June 22. All work must be original in concept and appropriate for family viewing.
Selected entrants are invited to attend the awards reception, and may be asked to share their talents by talking about their work with museum patrons doing demonstrations or participating in group and/or panel discussions.
Awards for excellence will be presented in two groups: Grades K-8 and Grades 9-12 at the “Opening Reception” at The Center on July 10. Criteria for judging will include: creativity/originality, technical merit, successful storytelling, humor (if appropriate), written description, and viewer’s choice (to be awarded at the closing of the exhibition).
For more information, visit www.artcenter.org.