A Sense of Community: Celebrating Jerry Pinkney's Legacy

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In the KMA’s Spot Gallery and Pollack Family Learning Center, A Sense of Community: Celebrating Jerry Pinkney’s Legacy explores Pinkney’s role as a mentor to, and model for, artists and illustrators of color. It includes the work of nine contemporary illustrators—Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, Elbrite Brown, Bryan Collier, Gordon James, Oge Mora, Brian Pinkney, James Ransome, Shadra Strickland, and Eric Velasquez—who are, like Pinkney, dedicated to making children’s literature more inclusive and diverse. The exhibition is co-curated by James E. Ransome—Pinkney’s close friend and mentee, and is himself a well-regarded artist and illustrator—and KMA curators Emily Handlin and Naomi Leiseroff.  

Jerry Pinkney was one of America’s most admired children’s book illustrators. He won the Caldecott Medal and five Caldecott Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, among many other honors.

Exhibition Images

picture for Brian Pinkney
Brian Pinkney
picture for Bryan Collier
Bryan Collier
picture for Charnelle Barlow
Charnelle Barlow
picture for Elbrite Brown
Elbrite Brown
picture for Eric Velasquez
Eric Velasquez
picture for Gordon James
Gordon James
picture for Oge Mora
Oge Mora
picture for James Ransome
James Ransome
picture for Shadra Strickland
Shadra Strickland

Artists

A sense of community has always been important to me, and I want that to be reflected in my art. When I speak of community, I am not only talking about the immediate world around me, but also legacy. I am always searching for projects that connect with my culture and the experience of being Black in America.

                                                                                                                        — Jerry Pinkney


Over nearly sixty years, Jerry Pinkney was a distinctive and celebrated voice in the world of illustration. With an aesthetic rooted in the art of drawing, he became one of the country’s leading illustrators and during his career, his work garnered numerous awards including the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 2010, five Caldecott Honor Awards, five Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, many Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, as well as gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators.


When Pinkney was called home on October 20, 2021, he left behind his indelible influence on a diverse community of illustrators. While this legacy spans an overwhelming list of creatives, for this exhibition, we have selected nine illustrators who shared particularly close relationships with the artist. Brian Pinkney, his son, observed his father daily, while simultaneously honing his own visual voice. His granddaughter Charnelle connected with Pinkney through family gatherings. For me, Pinkney was a lifelong mentor. During the first ten years of my career, I would often spend hours visiting Pinkney in his studio. Other artists exhibited here knew him simply through conversations at book events. Although each of these illustrators watched Pinkney’s career as a guide for their own, they also offer alternate creative visions to Pinkney’s dominance in the children’s book world.


This exhibition brings together all these myriad voices to honor a creator who touched so many folks, not only with his artwork but also with his warm gentle personality and smile that would melt away any professional tension. With his passing, one phrase has been repeated in remembering him: “He was a really kind person.” 


No award could top that.


— James Ransome, exhibition co-curator

 

 

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Jerry Pinkney's Role as a Mentor to Nine Contemporary Illustrators of Color

'A Sense of Community: Celebrating Jerry Pinkney’s Legacy' explores Pinkney’s role as a mentor to, and model for, artists and illustrators of color. It includes the work of nine contemporary illustrators—Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, Elbrite Brown, Bryan Collier, Gordon James, Oge Mora, Brian Pinkney, James Ransome, Shadra Strickland, and Eric Velasquez—who are, like Pinkney, dedicated to making children’s literature more inclusive and diverse. The exhibition will be co-curated by James Ransome, who was Pinkney’s close friend and mentee, and is himself a well-regarded artist and illustrator.

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'A Sense of Community: Celebrating Jerry Pinkney’s Legacy'

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Activity Sheets

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Create Your Own Picture Book (PDF)
Social Story

The KMA's Social Story helps prepare children and their families for their visit to the Museum.

Social Story (PDF)

Credits

James Ransome, “You know...I believe that girl could fly,” (p. 1-2) from On Her Wings: The Story of Toni Morrison by Jerdine Nolen, 2022, Watercolor and collage, Courtesy of the artist.


This project is made possible with funds from ReStart the Arts, a regrant program of ArtsWestchester with support from the Office of the Governor, the New York State Legislature and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Also on view

Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney