Amherst, Massachusetts—Owls, some of the most widely depicted creatures in children's literature, swoop into The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art from December 8, 2018 to April 21, 2019 for the exhibition Illustrated Owls: A Who's Hoo from the Museum's Vault. Nocturnal birds of prey, owls have figured in world cultures throughout history, from Greek mythology to Harry Potter's Hedwig. Their large, forward-facing eyes give the appearance of intelligence, inspiring artists and writers to portray owls as symbols of wisdom.
Illustrated Owls features the noble birds as represented by 22 artists whose work is on long-term loan or in The Carle's permanent collection. Interpretations range from the realistic to the charming.
Highlights include Garth Williams's 1955 Children's Book Week poster, Maurice Sendak's lithograph from A Kiss for Little Bear (1971), José Aruego and Ariane Dewey's watercolors from Owliver (1974), and numerous E. H. Shepard illustrations of Owl, Pooh, Tigger, and other friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The exhibition includes three Eric Carle artworks in different media. On display is the screech owl from Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?, created in Carle's signature tissue paper collage, an abstract metal owl sculpture, and an early linoleum print of a great horned owl. Gallery activities invite guests to create owl drawings to take home or add to our parliament (a parliament is a group of owls--a term first used by C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia). Owl-themed picture books, ambient owl sounds, and fun fact family labels complete the installation.
"I was delighted to discover so many artistic representations of owls," says Ellen Keiter, the Museum's chief curator. "The exhibition highlights the variety of artists, stories, and techniques represented in our world-class Picture Book art collection."
Illustrated Owls includes prints, collages, pen and ink drawings, and watercolors. The featured artists are José Aruego and Ariane Dewey, Howard Berelson, Walter Harrison Cady, Eric Carle, Antonio Frasconi, Michael Hague, Ezra Jack Keats, Dorothy Lathrop, Arnold Lobel, Petra Mathers, J. P. Miller, Barry Moser, Marian Parry, Jerry Pinkney, Maurice Sendak, E. H. Shepard, Susanne Suba, Simms Taback, Matthew Van Fleet, Leonard Weisgard, and Garth Williams.
Image: Arnold Lobel, Illustration for The Random House Book of Mother Goose (Random House). Gift of Adrianne and Adam Lobel. © 1986 Arnold Lobel.