Before the winter solstice, as the days grow shorter, people of every culture long for the return of light. This fall/winter season Norman Rockwell Museum
explores the commonality and distinctiveness of people through the art and stories found in childrens holiday picture books created by six award-winning illustrators.
Cultural Traditions: A Holiday Celebration is on view at the Museum from November 17, 2018 through February 10, 2019. Featuring over 40 original artworks representing traditional winter holidays, the exhibition has been organized by Norman Rockwell Museum, and curated by Barbara Rundback, the Museums Assistant Curator.
Illustrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, Harriet Zieferts Hanukkah Haiku (2008) uses a traditional Japanese poetic form to commemorate the eight nights of the holiday, as illustrated by artist Karla Gudeon. Known for her decorative engravings and paintings, Gudeons lively watercolor on paper paintings match the description of each night of the holiday as the branches of the menorah are lit, in this cultural crossover.
The Night Before Christmas is brought to life through Russian-born illustrator Gennady Spirins 2006 rendering of Clement Clarke Moores classic holiday poem. Recipient of numerous Gold Medal Awards from the Society of Illustrators, Spirins gold highlighted watercolor and colored pencil illustrations recall an old-fashioned Christmastime feel, with a nod to Russian art traditions.
A different take on the Christmas holiday is presented in 1999s The Night of Las Posadas, written and illustrated by Smithsonian Medal and Childrens Literature Award-winning artist Tomie dePaola. The religious observance, celebrated in Hispanic and Latino culture, is given a Southwestern style, and dePaolas acrylic-on-handmade watercolor paper illustrations bring this charming story of a Christmas Eve miracle to life.
Author Andrea Davis Pinkney and her husband/illustrator Brian Pinkney provide a pictorial guide to the African American holiday Kwanzaa in 1993s Seven Candles for Kwanzaa. The couple, each a former recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, tell the story of Kwanzaa, named for the first fruits of the harvest, through an overview of traditions, Swahili translations, and Brian Pinkneys colorful scratchboard illustrations.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year, Newbery Award-winning author and illustrator Grace Lins Bringing in the New Year(2008) tells the story of a family celebrating the customs and traditions of the holiday, which are meant to bring good fortune. Recognized as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling by President Barack Obama, Lins bright and decorative gouache renderings for the book mirror the festive holiday.
Finally, the various light displays of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the winter sunset, come together in Dusk (2013) by Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator and author Uri Shulevitz. The whimsical picture book follows the journey of a grandfather, grandson, and their dog through the streets of New York City as natures lights go out and the citys lights come on. Shulevitzs ink and watercolor illustrations bring the distinct mood of the early winter season to life.
In addition to Cultural Traditions, the Museum presents a special installation of original works from Eve Buntings One Candle, illustrated by K. Wendy Popp. The pastel and conté crayon works, part of the Museums permanent collection of illustration art, tell the story of one familys unique Hanukkah tradition inspired by past experience.