"Best of Bologna" Showcases Children's Illustrators

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Illustration by Maurizio QuarelloThe Library's new permanent exhibit of works by 19 talented children's illustrators from around the globe confirms the fact that kids' books aren't just for kids. "Best of Bologna: Edgiest Artists of the 2008 International Children's Book Fair" 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 and important annual children's book event.

"Usually, fewer than 100 artists are selected for the show," says Jeff Garrett, Associate University Librarian for Special Libraries, who has served on past juries. "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."
Located on the Fourth Floor (in the corridor between the towers), the exhibit includes personal statements from the illustrators, offering intriguing 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. "[H]ardly 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)?"
 
Argentinian 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."
 
The illustrations on display are extremely high-resolution copies of originals that were digitized by the Library's Digital Collections department and are also displayed online, along with a film about the Bologna Book Fair created by created by Ayami Morizumi in 2007. Their permanent installation on the Fourth Floor, made possible by the Walter A. and Dawn Clark Netsch Fund, is free and open to the public during the Library's regular public hours.