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Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration
A Smithsonian Institution Libraries Exhibition

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Exhibition Traveling Schedule

“Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration,” a panel exhibit curated for the Smithsonian Institution Libraries by National Museum of American History's Helena Wright and Joan Boudreau, will showcase reproductions of select illustrations from the Libraries’ collection of rare books and documents. The individual panels vividly demonstrate how illustrations catch readers’ eyes, draw them in, and help forge make a more direct connection to their reading material.

Through historic illustrations, viewers of the exhibit are able to see what inspires and drives graphic art. Andreas Vesalius, an early physician and progressive scientist, wrote the book “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (1543) with illustrations of the human body showing muscles pulled back to see what was underneath. The illustrations of Vesalius changed the way people looked at the human form and helped develop modern medicine. Letters have been shown to be inspiration for some writers, as seen through the graphic images from children’s alphabet books; and pictures drawn with a calligraphic style add a degree of artistry to poems about birds in Armand Monjo’s “Tu l’as vu l’oiseau?” (1993). The labor-intensive engraving process is shown through meticulously rendered illustrations, such as “The Wood Beyond the World” by William Morris (1894), giving the viewer an appreciation for the thought, time and effort that went into his work. The art of all the books above and many others will be on display at the exhibit.

The grace, beauty and significance of book illustration will be highlighted at the PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 exhibition Sept. 9-15, 2005 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. “Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration” will present a schedule of local artists for the Chicago venue, highlighting various forms of illustration. Demonstrations will include wood engraving by Chicago artist Judith Jaidinger, intaglio printing by David Jones, and new approaches for illustration by instructors from Chicago’s Columbia College. Jaidinger has made prints for more than 30 years. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, she worked in commercial wood engraving as well as fine printmaking. She is a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers. Jones, from the printmaking studio Anchor Graphics, will operate the Press on Wheels intaglio printing system used for school demonstrations. Columbia College offers four-year degree programs in visual, performing, media and communication arts, including a graduate program in Book and Paper Arts. Art and design department faculty members, Paul Vaccarello (Illustration) and Craig Jobson (Graphic Design), will discuss and show how students in traditional courses of drawing, illustration, typography and graphic design use computer-assisted design, animation, sound and motion graphics to develop new visual media to meet changing industry demands.

Following its appearance at the PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 exhibition, the panel exhibit will travel throughout the United States. The full gallery version of the exhibit, featuring numerous books from the Smithsonian Libraries’ collection, will open in late 2005 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

“Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration” is being supported by NPES The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies, contributing members, related businesses and industry organizations.

For more information, contact Smithsonian Institution Libraries administrative offices at 202.633.2240, or e-mail libmail@si.edu.