“Writing and illustrating children’s books is a lot like playing with art supplies as a kid– it is fun to make something out of nothing and each day is different. Every day I go to my studio, and I keep in mind four words by one of my favorite authors, E. B. White. Though written for a poultry primer, its sage advice for being an artist, and for living life: “Be tidy. Be brave.” – Melissa Sweet
Melissa Sweet has illustrated over 100 books as well as many toys, puzzles, and games for eeBoo. Her work has been in magazines, on greeting cards and as drawings on her living room walls. As an author, Sweet has written four books: Carmine: A Little More Red, a New York Times Best Illustrated book; Tupelo Rides the Rails; Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, a Sibert Award winner (for informational books) and a NCTE Orbis Pictus winner (for nonfiction). Her new book, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White garnered two nonfiction awards: the 2017 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, and a Boston Globe Horn Book honor. Melissa has illustrated three books by author Jen Bryant: A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, both of which garnered Caldecott Honors. A Splash of Red: The Art of Horace Pippin, was a Sibert Award and Orbis Pictus Award winner.
Sweet has been creating art ever since she could hold a crayon, scissors, Etch-A–Sketch, and coloring book. She has a knack for transforming little known or forgotten heroes into extraordinary persons of interest. This exhibition features award-winning biographical work done in her signature watercolor and found-object collage style. An accomplished artist, her art offers a unique view into the text and the subject matter she is tackling. There is much more information hidden in the art and imagery in the book she illustrates than in the text of the book. Often incorporating wood, hardware, vintage office supplies, wallpaper, fabric, and even quotes from the subjects she is tacking, the detailed tableaux, she presents invites careful inspection by us the reader, often rewarding us with connections to the subject's work.
Some of the books featured in this exhibition include: The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon, A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, Little Red Writing, A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, You Nest Here with Me, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White.