A man’s life exposed

     “This groundbreaking exhibition examines how one very talented artist managed to overcome obstacles and create powerful stories that have literally become the country’s collective memory,” said Stephanie Plunkett, Norman Rockwell Museum Deputy Director, who co-curated the exhibition. “Jerry Pinkney is the master of the American picturebook,” expressed Dr. Joyce K. Schiller, Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies curator. “He has managed to bring historical events to life through the magic of his beautiful and sometimes fanciful imagery.”


Jerry Pinkney

    (PNAN-VT) – Gravity has been undoubtedly this native Philadelphian’s best teacher. Someone had to be a strong reminder or the model of inspiration that ‘think tank’ ideas are useless, unless they are put into motion and applied consistently. Sure change is good, but when the ideas are a constant flutter like a bird’s wings or a car’s tires on ice; they will not root. They must be ‘fertilized’ as he has done: “…fifty years of getting up in the morning, and on most days, entering my studio for a day of making pictures,” said Jerry Pinkney, whose exhibition opens on Saturday, November 13 at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Vermont, “Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” will be featuring luminous watercolor paintings and richly detailed drawings created for best-loved books and carefully-researched historical commissions.

“The Lion and the Mouse” cover art by Jerry Pinkney's 2009 Caldecott Medal-Winning Picturebook. ©2009.

     Honored with the prestigious Caldecott Medal, awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picturebook for children, he also is a recipient of nine Coretta Scott King Awards and Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, and a life time achievement award from the Society of Illustrators in New York. Only a tad more additions to his profile include service on the Board of the National Endowment for the Arts and on the National Postal Service’s Citizen Stamp Advisory Council

     An overview of the artist’s long and varied 50-year career as a designer and illustrator, the show touches on such deeply felt personal and cultural themes: the African-American experience; the wonders of classic literature; and the wisdom in well-loved folk tales. A belief in the ability of images to speak about and to humanity is at the artist’s core, and the works featured in the exhibition celebrate both small yet extraordinary moments, as well as significant historical events, reflecting the transformative power of visual storytelling in our lives.

     “I feel I’ve been helping to establish a new cultural understanding,” said Pinkney. “As I learn about a new subject, I in turn open the door for other to also learn.”

      Remaining on view through May 2011, more than 140 of  artist Pinkney’s luminous watercolors illustrations include work from “A Patchwork Quilt” (1985), “Home Place” (1990), “John Henry” (1994), “Minty: A Story of a Young Harriet Tubman” (1996), “Black Cowboy, Wild Horses” (1998), “The Little Match Girl” (1999), “Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales” (1999), “The Old African” (2005), “The Lion and the Mouse” (2009), and “Sweethearts of Rhythm” (2009). Also on display are illustrated commissions for such clients as music artists, National Geographic, and the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center, as well as a collection of the artist’s supplies, personal photos, book awards, and video and interactive displays, which further highlight the artist’s career and inspirations.

     Pinkney’s artwork is in the permanent collections at the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Delaware Art Museum and the Brandywine River Art Museum.  He has had over 30 one-man retrospectives at venues ranging from the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, to the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, California, including exhibitions in over one hundred group shows in the USA, Japan, Russia, Italy, Taiwan and Jamaica.

     Knowing what a person is suppose to with their gifts can be quite overwhelming, when we let our minds take the ‘piece of cake’ roads. Pinkney did not just simply draw/paint pretty pictures day-in and day-out as it may seem; moreover, he was in a constant mode of honing his craft which is required to succeed, and applying the extensive educations that he achieved, including passing that knowledge onto his students. Again, someone had to keep him on course in the beginning and throughout as the reminder that the first ‘show’, “The Adventures of Spider: West African Folk Tales” (1964) is your road to be taken, and he has because his newest 2010 book, “Three Little Kittens” was just released. In addition, “The Lion and the Mouse” for which he won his Caldecott Medal has been given two more honors, “2010 The Bull-Branson Award” from the Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming and the Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Book Award. Jerry has not assumed an ‘all about me’ persona, but fort rightfully has honored his craft and his works as the public celebrities.

     For more in depth information on this exhibit, see www.nrm.org or on this author-illustrator-professor, www.jerrypinkneystudio.com, who lives with his wife, author Gloria Jean, in Westchester County, New York.

Jerry Pinkney photo by Thomas Kristich

Published by on October 2010. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, Storybook Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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