Co-curating a show with the Brandywine Museum of Art

Last year, I was invited by Audrey Lewis, Associate Curator at The Brandywine Museum of Art, to co-curate a show of children’s illustration work. What an invitation! Of course, being asked to participate in anything connected with the Brandywine Museum is an honor. I have been a fan of the Wyeth tradition since I studied illustration at Syracuse.

We began by deciding on a theme for the show. If you have ever visited the Brandywine or seen any of the work done by the Wyeths, you are immediately confronted by trees, grasses, water, and sky. I knew I wanted to create a show that highlighted nature somehow. Family is also a strong theme in the Wyeth tradition of illustration which also runs so strongly through many picture books today. Once we brought those ideas together, we began brainstorming artists that we might want to invite to show. I didn’t have to look too far from home to start, as many of the artists whose work I admired for years were perfectly in line with the theme. 

There were some stops and starts along the way, but the selection process did go smoothly. It has been a crash course in curation for me, but Audrey is a steady and generous collaborator, making for a smooth and fun experience. It doesn’t stop at us though! Launching a show takes many months (10 to be exact) of meetings with designers, marketers, registrars, education planners, and the museum director to bring something of this scale together. After 10 months of emails, strategizing, trips to Chadds Ford, phone calls, and Teams meetings, Rooted is ready to launch!

This exhibition explores the enduring bonds of nature and family through a lively presentation of original artwork from eight illustrated children’s books. The illustrations on view will feature a diverse group of protagonists who experience compelling moments in their everyday lives, whether it be finding appreciation for the wonders of nature or feeling joy in activities with family in the outdoors. The artists represented are Micha Archer, Sophie Blackall, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Joe Cepeda, Devon Holzwarth, Juana Martinez-Neal, Frank Morrison, and Qing Zhuang. Visitors of all ages will be immersed in the colorful, lively drawings created with various materials, including acrylic, oil, watercolor, pastels, colored pencils, linocuts, woodcuts, ink, and collage.

This exhibition is a continuation of the rich tradition of illustration that is so well represented in Brandywine’s collection with works by figures such as Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, and Jesse Wilcox Smith. It also follows on the success of two earlier Brandywine projects centered on children: Get the Picture: Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration (2016) and Holidays & Snow Days: Illustrations for Three Children’s Books (2018-19).

Rooted will be on display from October 14th – February 25th at the Brandywine Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA!

We will host an opening signing by Sophie Blackall at 2PM on Saturday along with a meet and greet with the curators! Stay tuned or final details.