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Founded in 1980 by illustrators’ agent and art director Dilys Evans, this exhibit showcases original art from the year’s best children’s books as determined by a jury of outstanding illustrators, art directors, and editors. The jury also selects Gold and Silver Medal recipients for the year’s exhibit.

This year’s Silver Medal winners are Frank Morrison for The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop (Little Bee Books) and Sydney Smith for Small in the City (Holiday House/ Neal Porter Books). The Gold Medal is awarded to Melissa Castrillon for The Balcony (Simon & Schuster/ Paula Wiseman Books).

The Original Art honors exceptional children’s book artists with two other awards each year. The Dilys Evans Founder’s Award celebrates the year’s most promising new talent in the field. The 2019 jury has selected Chris Sasaki for Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist (Random House Children’s Books/ Schwartz & Wade Books).

The Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize artists whose body of work documents an innovative and pioneering contribution to the field. Nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Awards are put forward by past chairs of The Original Art, and the winners are selected by artists whose work has been juried into the show in the previous five years. This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winners are Nancy Ekholm Burkert and Mary Blair (posthumously).

Nancy Ekholm Burkert creates illustrations that are rich and realistic in detail, yet fanciful and timeless in content. Whether rendered in watercolor, or pencil and charcoal, or pen and ink, her work consistently demonstrates the meticulous research she brings to every endeavor, her ability to capture characters and settings, and her mastery of light, shadow, and depth. The first book she illustrated was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (Knopf). She followed it with A Child’s Calendar by John Updike (also Knopf). Then she turned her attention to classics such as The Nightingale and The Fir Tree, by Hans Christian Anderson, and The Scroobious Pip by Edward Lear (all HarperCollins). Valentine and Orson, which she wrote as well as illustrated, received a Boston Globe – Horn Book Award, and her best-known, best-loved title, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Caldecott Honor Book. (Both Farrar, Straus).

Mary Blair (1911–1978) was a trailblazing animator and designer for Disney and also worked as a graphic designer, set designer, muralist, and children’s books artist. Her modernist style, sharply defined figures, and passionate love of color are key elements in all of her work, and together they became a signature feature in the whimsical titles she illustrated for Little Golden Books. They include Baby’s House by Gelolo McHugh, The Up and Down Book, which she wrote as well as illustrated, The Golden Book of Little Verses by Miriam Clark Potter, The New Golden Song Book, compiled by Norman Lloyd, and I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, still in print after sixty-eight years. Although the number of books she illustrated is small, critics agree that her influence on illustrators at work today is unmistakable. Her art was celebrated in exhibits at the Walt Disney Family Museum in 2014 and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in 2016.

A full list of featured artists can be found online here. 

Selected books, medal recipients, and award winners will be recognized and honored during the Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony, held at the Society of Illustrators (128 East 63rd Street, NYC), on Thursday, November 14, beginning at 6:00 pm. Tickets are on sale for $25 members/ $30 non-members.

The Society will also be hosting several community events and programs in conjunction with the exhibit. Dates and descriptions will be posted soon.

Image credit information:

Gold Medal
Melissa Castrillon
The Balcony
Simon & Schuster/ Paula Wiseman Books
Art Director: Lizzy Bromley
Editor: Paula Wiseman
Author: Melissa Castrillon
Medium: Pencil, then colored digitally

Silver Medal
Frank Morrison
The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop
Little Bee Books
Art Director: Rob Wall
Editor: Brett Duquette
Author: Carol Boston Weatherford
Medium: Oil paint and spray paint

Silver Medal
Sydney Smith
Small in the City
Holiday House
Neal Porter Books
Art Director: Jennifer Browne
Editor: Neal Porter
Author: Sydney Smith
Medium: Watercolor, ink, gouache

The Dilys Evans Founder’s Award
Chris Sasaki
Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist
Random House Children’s Books
Schwartz & Wade Books
Art Director: Rachael Cole
Editor: Anne Schwartz
Author: Julie Leung
Medium: Digital 


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