Children's picture books have long been most people's first exposure to the world of art. The focus of telling a story primarily with illustration relies heavily on an artist being able to express an entire book's worth of moments and emotions. Whether the pictures are detailed beauty or simple sketches, they capture the imaginations of a young audience while expanding a child's ability to identify and relate to the feelings and reactions of others. Picture books have a profound impact on the way we see and learn to experience the world around us. Favorites are enjoyed over and over - never forgotten even into adulthood where they are then often shared with one's own children.
Get the Picture! Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration is a celebration of eight artists currently thriving in the picture book business: Sophie Blackall, Bryan Collier, Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, Jon Klassen, Melissa Sweet, David Wiesner and Mo Willems. Each one has their own unique style, demonstrating the inclusiveness of the field and the variety of ways there are to tell an engaging story. It's a beautifully put together exhibit by the Brandywine River Museum and guest curator H. Nichols B. Clark with fantastic image selection from the different books covered alongside the engaging personal stories of each illustrator.
Something we absolutely loved was the attention to setting up the exhibit in a way that could viewed and enjoyed by kids. It's such an amazing opportunity to introduce children to the realization that the pictures they love and experience daily can stand alone as works of art and still tell a story. That a simple drawing, such as one that they themselves can create, is to be celebrated for its own sake and the thoughtfulness poured into it. Get the Picture! inspires awareness of the emotions of others and ones own self and sets the stage for a future appreciation of the world of art.
The exhibit is set up with some interactive elements that Daily Vacationer Jr enjoyed including an engaging game of Seek and Find within the pictures. Carrying our own scavenger hunt lists, we viewed the pictures closely giving attention to the details in each piece - searching for a lobster, melting ice cubes, etc. Fortunately each item to be found was listed with what artist did the illustration, narrowing the search from the entire exhibit to a less daunting handful of pictures. There were also a few touch screen versions of various stories to explore (such as David Weisner's Spot), as well as an engaging video with interviews and fun demonstrations with and by the artists themselves. We had also brought our own sketchpads and colored pencils to try our own hand at copying pictures or drawing our own stories.
We had definite favorites in the exhibit from our own collection at home or library experiences including the hilarious Elephant and Piggie and Pigeon books of Mo Willems, the slightly unsettling I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat from Jon Klassen, and the detailed collages of Melissa Sweet in stories such as Balloons over Broadway. Every picture had its own appeal, however, and we were delighted to discover a large reading area with all of the of books covered in the exhibit. After seeing the illustrations on their own and learning so much about the people who drew them, we wanted to know the full story of each and every book. We spent a lot of time looking, reading, and appreciating, and we left with a long list of future book purchases and library check outs. (And for those visitors who find themselves desperately wanting a new book then and there, the museum's gift shop is selling copies of many of the stories from the exhibit!)
Get the Picture! will be at the
Brandywine River Museum through October 9th.
Visit for FREE Oct 2, 11am-2pm for PNC Arts Alive First Sunday and meet Mo Willems' famous characters, Elephant and Piggie, take part in an interactive storytime with Lisa Oster of Dance Me a Story, and experience a performance from the Academy of International Ballet.
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