Friday Arts

Jerry Pinkney




Art of Life — Produced by Karen Smyles

From June 28th thru September 22nd The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present an exhibition of drawings and watercolors by Jerry Pinkney highlighting the artist’s long and varied career as a designer and illustrator. Touching upon personal and cultural themes such as the African American experience, the wonders of classic literature, and the wisdom of well-loved folk tales, the works in this exhibition celebrate both small yet extraordinary moments as well as significant historical events, reflecting the transformative power of visual storytelling in our lives. Pinkney’s luminous illustrations include work from such classic picture books as The Patchwork Quilt (1985); John Henry (1994); Minty, A Story of Young Harriet Tubman (1996); Black Cowboy, Wild Horses: A True Story (1998); The Old African (2005); and Sweethearts of Rhythm (2009).

Winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal for his acclaimed children’s picture book The Lion and the Mouse (2009), Pinkney grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and studied at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts). He’s been the recipient of five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Book Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, and a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Illustrators in New York.

A few weeks before the exhibition opened, Friday Arts had the opportunity to sit down with the artist during his visit to the museum to put the final touches on the exhibit. In July’s Art of Life segment you’ll get to see and hear how his Philadelphia roots influenced his art and why he still gets such joy from his work.

Listen below: ART Producer Michael O’Reilly crafted this radio preview using the interviews that ART OF LIFE Producer Karen Smyles had captured for her video segment. Additional interviews and ambient sounds captured by producer Elisabeth Perez-Luna were woven into a narrative that describes Mr. Pinkney’s humble and fractured beginnings growing up in a too-small house in Philadelphia while laboring (and succeeding) under the burden of dyslexia.



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