Wausau, Wisconsin: Radiating joy, artist Christian Robinson’s playful children’s book illustrations, featured in an exhibition opening at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, candidly address social issues while encouraging kindness to all.
What Might You Do? The Art of Christian Robinson, on view at the Woodson Art Museum December 4, 2021 through February 27, 2022, comprises his vibrantly exuberant work in acrylic paint, colored pencil, and collage illustrating 17 books.
Whether depicting a boy’s daydream doodles during a subway ride or the triumphs and travails of a Harlem Renaissance performer’s life, Robinson’s artwork openly addresses social ills – from making flawed assumptions about others to discrimination based on differences – all while conveying delight and hope.
Robinson, a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator honoree, also is an author, designer, and animator whose joyfully inclusive artworks encourage empathy for others and valuing all.
Raised by his aunt and grandmother with a brother and two cousins in a one-bedroom California apartment, drawing was the way Robinson created space for himself and the kind of world he wanted to see. After studying animation at the California Institute of the Arts, he later worked with the Sesame Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios before becoming an illustrator of children’s books.
His picture book Another asks “what if you encountered another perspective, discovered another world, met another you? What might you do?” Robinson’s motivational spark for this story was a desire for children to see themselves reflected on the page. “As a child, I loved stories in which the main character goes on some magical adventure to a world where anything is possible. Oftentimes, those characters didn’t look like me or come from a community that reflected my own,” Robinson said. “I want kids today to have a different experience.”
Continuing its commitment to presenting biennial exhibitions of children’s illustrated literature, the Woodson Art Museum scheduled What Might You Do? The Art of Christian Robinson before the summer 2020 protests nationwide highlighted racial justice issues. Robinson’s recent high-profile projects include illustrating The Bench, a children’s book written by Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, partnering with Target for a collection of children’s clothing, books, and home accessories, and illustrating a children’s book about Nina Simone, the prolific composer and singer behind “To Be Young, Gifted and Black,” among many other songs.
What Might You Do? The Art of Christian Robinson, features artwork from 17 books including Milo Imagines the World, Robinson’s most recent collaboration with author Matt de la Peña, and Robinson’s solo projects Another, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2019, and You Matter, a New York Times bestseller. This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.
Snow Sculpture, Saturday, January 29, Noon – 5 pm
Team USA Snow Sculptors – Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz – inspired by Christian Robinson’s illustrations – work their winter wonders during their 32nd year creating snow sculptures at the Woodson Art Museum.
Relief-Print Exhibitions and Artist Residency Programs
Two relief-print exhibitions also will be on view December 4, 2021 through February 27, 2022: American Woodblock Prints, organized by the Syracuse University Art Museum, and Making the Cut: Relief Prints from the Woodson Art Museum’s Collection.
Wisconsin artist S.V. (Sue) Medaris brings relief-printing to life during an artist residency, January 6-9, 2022. Bold and graphic, her prints and paintings of pets and farm animals explore the humor, drama, and nuance inherent in humans’ relationships with animals.
• Artist Talk, Thursday, January 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Medaris shares stories and insights into her relief-printing process and studio practice.
• Printmaking Open Studio, Friday, January 7, 1-3 p.m. Drop by to observe Medaris at work and learn more about her hand-colored woodblock prints.
• Woodblock Printing Workshop, Saturday and Sunday, January 8 and 9, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. During this two-day workshop, Medaris guides teens and adults as they design and carve a block for printing on a press; these small editions of prints can be hand colored or remain monochromatic. Fee: $85, Museum members; $100, non-members; lunches and materials provided. Call the Museum at 715.845.7010 to register; scholarships available.
Featured in February
• Art Beyond Sight, Saturday, February 5, 10:30 a.m.-Noon: Individuals with low vision and blindness join Museum educators for a multisensory experience of American Woodblock Prints and the illustrations of Christian Robinson followed by art making inspired by artwork on view.
• Practical Printmaking Workshop, Saturday, February 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Teens and adults join Woodson Art Museum curators for a playful exploration of accessible printmaking processes using everyday materials and household objects. Resulting original prints can be collaged, hand colored, and layered into future mixed-media artworks. Materials and lunch provided; $50 for members; $75 for non-members. Call the Museum at 715.845.7010 to register; scholarships available.
For additional details, check the events calendar PDF and exhibition webpage. For more information, visit www.lywam.org, e-mail the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Woodson Art Museum Hours
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9am – 4pm
First Thursday of each month 9am – 7:30pm
Every Thursday during Birds in Art 9am – 7:30pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5pm
Closed Monday & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007