The Crews Family: Donald Crews, Ann Jonas, Nina Crews

The Crews Family: Donald Crews, Ann Jones, Nina Crews opened at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) in the fall of 2002. Featuring artwork in watercolor, gouache, airbrush, photo collage, pen and ink from this dynamic artistic family, this exhibition highlights visually different yet heartwarming beauty of their works.

Donald Crews brings the graphic artist’s perennial quest for visual clarity to the making of picture books that speak directly to children of the youngest ages.  His Caldecott Honor-winning Freight Train works equally well as an introduction to train lore and as a first book of shapes and colors.  In the wide-eyed, intensely curious gazes of the children in his paintings, Crews gives us a strong sense both of his feelings for his young audience and of his own way of looking at things.

Nature’s bounty and the riddles of human perception inspire the consistently innovative picture books of Ann Jonas.  In Round Trip, Jonas offers up an illusionist tour-de-force in which each double-page illustration, when turned upside down, reads visually as a different, equally convincing scene.  For Jonas, a picture book begins as a sustained act of attention, and lives on through the attention it prompts us to pay.

For Nina Crews, still photographs are artist’s materials for the crafting of picture-book adventures that persuasively bridge the realms of fantasy and reality.  In I’ll Catch the Moon, photo-collage images of impossible happenings gently coax readers out of a literal frame of mind, as a very real-looking girl takes a very real-looking ladder, and climbs to the moon.  With You Are Here, Crews takes her photographic experiments a giant step further to conjure up a dream-like world with unmistakable visual echoes of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland.