The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats
"The Snowy Day marks a breakthrough in children’s literature because it features the first African-American protagonist in a full-color children’s picture book. Its importance can hardly be overstated; it inspired generations of readers and paved the way for multiracial representation in American children’s literature.
It also was among the first to bring a touch of realism to children’s books. The gritty urban settings of Keats’ stories revealed a landscape rarely seen in children’s books. It was a landscape Keats filled with mystery and stark beauty, and it has ever since enchanted legions of children.
The show features more than 80 original works, from preliminary sketches to final paintings and collages for the artist’s most popular books. Examples of his lesser-known works are also shown, those inspired by Asian art and haiku poetry, as well as documentary material and photographs."
The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats is the first major exhibition in the U.S. to pay tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), whose beloved children’s books include Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair, and The Snowy Day, published in 1962. The first modern full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist, The Snowy Day inspired generations of readers. The exhibition features over 80 original works by the artist, from preliminary sketches to final paintings and collages, including examples of Keats’s most introspective but less-known output inspired by Asian art and poetry. A space in the galleries will be transformed into a reading room inspired by Keats's art and stories for visitors of all ages.
by Claudia J. Nahson with an essay by Maurice Berger and a contribution by Emily Casden
In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats's picture book The Snowy Day introduced readers to young Peter, the first African American protagonist in a full-color children's book, who traipsed alone through the snowy, wondrous sidewalks of New York City.
Coinciding with The Snowy Day's 50th anniversary, the current publication features more than 75 illustrations alongside essays by Claudia Nahson and Maurice Berger, who discuss Keats's Jewish background, his advocacy of civil rights, his inventive art, and his wide-ranging influence.
The Snowy Day and The Art of Ezra Jack Keats is organized by The Jewish Museum, New York, from the collection of the de Grummond Children’s Literary Collection of The University of Southern Mississippi. The exhibition was funded at The Jewish Museum through a generous grant from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Joseph Alexander Foundation, the Alfred J. Grunebaum Memorial Fund, and the Winnick Family Foundation.
Its presentation in Akron is supported by major funding from GOJO, Inc, and the Robert O. & Annamae Orr Foundation.
Additional support is provided by Day Ketterer Ltd., Attorneys at Law and Huntington Bank for the exhibition opening and Akron Children’s Hospital and Summa Health System for the exhibition reading room.