Draw Me a Story
For Release: February 2013
Draw Me a Story, on view at the Akron Art Museumin The Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery, is comprised of collaborative classroom picture books created by second, third and fourth grade students from Akron’s Leggett, King and Glover elementary schools, as well as The Lippmann School. The exhibition also features a large-scale mural created by award winning children’s picture book author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh, who was inspired by pen pal style discussions with the students.
Celebrating the legacy of Ezra Jack Keats and complementing an exhibition of Keats’s work which opens March 16, Draw Me a Story acknowledges the power of picture books to promote visual literacy and cultural awareness. The first art many children experience is in picture books. Akron youngsters may not be familiar with Cindy Sherman or Chuck Close, but they can definitely identify an image of Peter, Keats’s protagonist in The Snowy Day, plodding through a fresh coating of snow in his bright red snow suit.
Born in Mexico City and raised in San Miguel de Allende, Tonatiuh graduated from Parsons and Eugene Lang College in New York City in 2008. His book Diego Rivera: His World and Ours won him the 2012 Pura Belpré illustration award and the 2012 Tomás Rivera Mexican American children's book award. His first book Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin received an honorable mention from the Pura Belpré committee in 2011 and was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by Kirkus reviews and the Chicago Public Library.
Tonatiuh's work is inspired by ancient Mexican art, appropriating its flat, geometric style. He brings Keats’s collage style into the 21st century by using a computer to incorporate various textures and colors into his work. While Keats depicted African American children in picture books, Tonatiuh’s aim is to create images that address contemporary issues that affect people of Mexican origin on both sides of the border. In his book “Dear Primo,” a boy in Mexico trades letters with a cousin in the United States only to find that, although their lives are different, many of their experiences are universal. This collective experience is what makes Tonatiuh’s work so recognizable and special.
Working with a picture book writer and illustrator and displaying their own artwork at the museum is sure to create a lasting memory with young students, continuing Keats’s popularity and promoting new multicultural picture books.
Draw Me a Story is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with additional support from the Ohio Arts Council, the Robert O. & Annamae Orr Foundation, The Sisler McFawn Foundation, The Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Huntington Bank and The J.M. Smucker Company.