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Library Showcases Best of Children's Book Artists

"Best of Bologna: Edgiest Artists of the 2008 International Children's Book Fair" now on display

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August 11, 2009
Produced by Matt Paolelli
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Kids’ books aren’t just for kids, as the works by 23 children’s illustrators show in a new Northwestern University Library exhibit.

“Best of Bologna: Edgiest Artists of the 2008 International Children’s Book Fair” is now on display in the upper lobby of Deering Library (accessible through the Main Library entrance at 1970 Campus Drive). The exhibit is free and open to the public through Oct. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.

“Best of Bologna” presents a selection of artists chosen from an original pool of more than 3,000 who entered a competition to be featured at the world’s largest annual children’s book event.

“Usually, fewer than 100 artists are selected for the show,” said associate university librarian Jeff Garrett, who has served on past juries and curated the exhibit. “There are no selection criteria, and jurors from different countries will often disagree violently about what constitutes interesting art.  So when the arguments die down, the final selection represents a really fascinating look at trends in international book illustration.”

The exhibit includes personal statements from the illustrators, offering glimpses into the ideas and experiences that inspire these artists. Alenka Sottler, whose images incorporate blocks of printed type, says this technique recalls the frugal circumstances of her socialist Slovenian childhood. “Hardly anything could be purchased,” she recalls. “My mother, employed by the largest newspaper, Delo, brought home cuttings of used paper from the printing house.  My father, a sculptor, would always sketch his plans on the printed articles due to the shortage of paper.”

Chun Sheng Tsou created the character "Mr. Chip" to articulate the issues of cultural, linguistic and financial dislocation he felt in coming from his native Taiwan to study at the Royal College of Art in London for a year.

“It all began when I was having the traditional British food -- fish and chips,” he says, “and one question suddenly emerged in my mind.  Why does the fish (higher value) always have to be devoured before the chips (lower value)?”

Argentine artist Hernan Canellas says that in his illustrations for a story about a boy who is looking for his lost bird, “I’ve tried to create a mysterious and melancholic mood through the use of simple lines….I draw for children while not thinking of them as children…I try to use colors, concepts and atmospheres that can be enjoyed by people of all ages; I believe that beautiful shapes do not belong to any particular age.”

For more information, call (847) 467-5918 or visit http://www.library.northwestern.edu.