April 18, 2019  

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de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection to Present Exhibit by Award-Winning Illustrator Wendell Minor

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Wendell Minor

The de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi will feature more than 150 original works by award-winning illustrator, Wendell Minor, at an exhibit from March 1 through May 15 at Oddfellows Gallery in downtown Hattiesburg. These pieces are part of a traveling exhibit organized by Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The exhibition opening and reception will take place March 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the public is invited to attend.

Minor is a longtime friend of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection and the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival. The de Grummond Collection holds Minor’s illustrations of the award-winning book Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue. In 2013, he attended the festival as a speaker and is returning for the 50th Children’s Book Festival with his wife, Florence, where they will present together on Thursday, April 6.

 “I believe children’s books to be the highest form of creative expression for artists and writers. It is a noble cause to inspire children through words and pictures,” Minor said. “Many thanks to the de Grummond Collection and the Fay B. Kaigler Book Festival for 50 years of excellence in preserving the best in children’s literature.”

Wendell Minor’s America: 25 Year of Children’s Book Art traces the personal and artistic journey of the acclaimed book illustrator and admirer of Norman Rockwell, through original artwork, artifacts, and references from Minor’s expansive visual chronicles, as well as commentary about his collaborations with our nation’s most prominent authors, scientists, and historians; highlights include original work from such books as Reaching for the Moon and Look to the Stars by Buzz Aldrin; Sitting Bull Remembers by Ann Turner; Abraham Lincoln Comes Home by Robert Burleigh; Arctic Son by Jean Craighead George; Shane by Jack Schaefer; and America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates.

“Wendell Minor’s America is a world-class exhibit. Most people are familiar with Wendell’s work and don’t even realize it. He has created cover art for many award-winning authors and the current paperback cover of To Kill A Mockingbird,” said Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection. “The exhibit will include those along with the original art for many of his children’s books. Wendell’s collaborations are legendary, having worked with Buzz Aldrin, Mary Higgins Clark, and many others.

“Perhaps his most important collaboration has been with Florence, his wife.  They are an incredible couple, and this exhibit will have something for everyone—no matter the interests. We are thrilled to have this exhibit and look forward to sharing this important work with our community.”

Minor is nationally known for the artwork he has created for more than 50 award-winning children’s books. His many collaborators include Jean Craighead George, Robert Burleigh, Buzz Aldrin, Tony Johnston, Mary Higgins Clark, and last but not least, his wife Florence. In 2009 Wendell and Florence’s If You Were a Penguin, was chosen by Pennsylvania for its “One Book, Every Young Child” 2009 early literacy program, and the couple enjoyed the month they spent speaking to children in Pennsylvania’s libraries, schools, Head Start facilities, and Museums.

Minor is also the cover artist and designer of more than 2,000 books for authors Pat Conroy, David McCullough, Fannie Flagg, Nathaniel Philbrick and many others. His portrait of Truman for the cover of David McCullough’s book is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award winner, Nathaniel Philbrick, will offer remarks during a special event Thursday, March 23 at Oddfellows Gallery. Minor illustrated Ben’s Revolution: Benjamin Russell and the Battle of Bunker Hill and Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex for Philbrick. In 2000, Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book was the basis of the 2015 movie of the same title directed by Ron Howard and inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC as well as the 2010 PBS American Experience film “Into the Deep” by Ric Burns. Since then, he has published numerous New York Times bestselling historical, non-fiction works.

The public is invited to attend a reception celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival. Wendell Minor will be in attendance and offer remarks during the reception. Teachers and librarians are invited to attend the Educators’ Seminar Professional Development on Friday, April 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Author and photo-illustrator, Sarah Campbell, will lead the one-day seminar.

Wendell Minor’s America will take visitors on a journey through history, from sea to shining sea, reflecting on the artist’s love of our country’s varied landscape and a deep respect for the environment. For more information about the exhibit and events, contact the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at 601.266.4349 or visit www.lib.usm.edu/wendellminor.

*Exhibition-Related Programs and Events

*Exhibition Opening and Reception
Wendell Minor’s America
- Thursday, March 2, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. 

Oddfellows Gallery

Join us for the opening of this special exhibition, which features more than 150 original artworks, as well as artifacts, and references from Wendell Minor’s expansive visual chronicles. Art and commentary reflecting Minor’s collaborations with our nation’s most prominent authors, scientists, and historians, will showcase a quarter-century of unforgettable picture book art.
*Nathaniel Philbrick Lecture and Book Signing
Thursday, March 23, 7 p.m. 

Oddfellows Gallery

Join us for a lecture by National Book Award Winner Nathaniel Philbrick about the nature of his artistic collaboration with artist Wendell Minor. He will also discuss his body of work, and take questions from the audience. The exhibit will be open prior to the event at 6:30 p.m. for viewing, with a book signing to follow.

*Children’s Book Festival 50th Anniversary Reception with Wendell Minor
Friday, April 7, 5 – 7 p.m.
Oddfellows Gallery

The public is invited to attend the closing reception for the 50th Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at Oddfellows Gallery. Wendell Minor will be the guest of honor and will offer remarks during the reception.

*Educators’ Seminar, Professional Development for Teachers and Librarians
Presented by Sarah Campbell, author and photo-illustrator
Friday, April 21, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Oddfellows Gallery

Teachers and librarians who want to infuse their lessons with nature, photography, and book-making, and teach nonfiction writing and photography, are invited to attend this one-day seminar. Continuing Education Units (CEU) will be available. The cost is $20 to attend and lunch will be provided. To register, visit www.lib.usm.edu/wendellminor.

*About Wendell Minor

Since his childhood in Aurora, Ill, Wendell Minor (b. 1944) has had a romance with America. As he explores its regions more closely, his love of the country grows with a vision that celebrates the beautiful and the lyrical. After completing his studies at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., Minor began creating original designs for Hallmark Cards, as well as book publishers in New York City. His cover illustrations have enhanced more than 2,000 works.

The artist draws upon his lifelong affinity for environmental issues to create illustrations for children’s books, which he finds especially satisfying. They allow him to combine his love of the outdoors with his independent pursuits— including painting the landscape from life, in the tradition of classic American painters such as Homer, Hopper, and Wyeth. His wish is to inspire children to go out into the fields and woods and mountains to see wildlife in its natural habitat, and to give them a positive perspective about the beauty that abounds in the world.

To research his children’s books, Minor has traveled from the tropical Everglades to the Arctic Circle to the Midwest to the Grand Canyon. He loves bringing the scenes of nature to children and is particularly close to the children’s books he has illustrated. Minor has said, “A picture invites the viewer into it and offers a sense of mystery. It lets the viewer become part of the process.”

His award-winning books have frequently been named on the annual lists for Notable Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies, Outstanding Science Trade Books, and IRA Teachers’ Choices. His books have also received the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio and Parents’ Choice Awards and been featured on PBS’s The Reading Rainbow.

Wendell Minor has had numerous solo exhibitions, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of Norman Rockwell Museum, the Illinois State Museum, Muskegon Museum of Art, Mattatuck Museum (of Connecticut), the Mazza Museum at Findlay University, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Museum of American Illustration, NASA, Arizona Historical Society, U.S. Coast Guard and the Library of Congress.

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book, and is a member of The Children’s Book Council (CBC), a non-profit trade organization dedicated to encouraging literacy and the use and enjoyment of children’s books. Referring to himself as a “recovering dyslexic,” he speaks in classrooms across the country, sharing with students of all ages the difficulties he experienced with reading as a child, and for those who have similar difficulties, how they too can overcome them.

Minor lives and works with his wife, Florence, and their two cats, in rural Connecticut.