The Eric Carle Museum Presents "David Wiesner & the Art of Wordless Storytelling"
Amherst, MA (April 27, 2017) Flying frogs, cloud-sized cabbages, and an underwater living room occupied by octopuses--David Wiesner's wordless picture books are marvels of visual and narrative invention. He presents magical possibilities and time-bending experiences, enticing readers to return again and again. Wiesner's technical virtuosity, exquisitely-nuanced colors, and dynamic compositions are on full display in David Wiesner & the Art of Wordless Storytelling, on view from June 18 through November 5, 2017.
This first-ever retrospective devoted to Wiesner's art features 80 original watercolors from some of his most famous books, including three for which he won the prestigious Caldecott Medal: Tuesday (1992), The Three Pigs (2002), and Flotsam (2007). Also on view is work from Wiesner's earliest artistic successes while still a student at the Rhode Island School of Design to his most recent project--his first graphic novel, Fish Girl, published just this year.
Wiesner has captivated readers for three decades. "More than creating the singular object--a painting or sculpture," Wiesner explains, "I am enthralled by the idea of a collection of images that work together toward a larger whole." Because Wiesner is so proficient at his craft, the reader becomes a vital participant in his books. "By removing the text," states Wiesner, "I am removing the author's voice. This lets the reader tell the story in their own voice. It puts the reader in the position of collaborating in the story-telling process, asking them to use their imagination along with mine."
Many strands of influence are evident in Wiesner's visual approach to storytelling. As Katherine Roeder writes in her catalogue essay, "David Wiesner's work is intricate and complex; his paintings are informed by a host of cultural sources, both high and low, and the books generously reward viewers who look, and look, and look again." The artist draws inspiration from such disparate sources as Surrealism, early American Modernism, and the popular arenas of cartoons, graphic novels, comic books, and film. Moreover, Wiesner's work is a collaboration of creativity and creative minds. As Roeder explains, "the liberating qualities of the imagination are Wiesner's most pervasive and consistent motif."
This exhibition has been organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Its presentation at The Carle is supported by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
According to Roeder, Wiesner "expects the viewer to actively engage with his work, to make connections and create meaning at every juncture." Therefore, it is apropos that David Wiesner & the Art of Wordless Storytelling includes the artist's popular app Spot, made available on iPads in the gallery, and a special reading area devoted to Wiesner's picture books. A video interview with the artist and a touchscreen allowing visitors to digitally color Wiesner's compositions are also available. In this way, the process of engaging and interacting with Wiesner's art within the exhibit continues to perpetuate creativity.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 112-page catalogue, distributed by Yale University Press and authored by Katherine Roeder, Adjunct Faculty, George Mason University and the University of Maryland, University College, with a Q&A with the artist, David Wiesner, by SBMA Assistant Director and Chief Curator, Eik Kahng, and Chief Curator at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Ellen Keiter. The catalogue is available for purchase in The Carle Bookshop.
Image: Bugs, 2009. Collection of Zora and Les Charles. © 2009 David Wiesner