Painter and Poet

August 3, 2018 to November 25, 2018

Painter and Poet

The Art of Ashley Bryan

Author and artist Ashley Bryan’s remarkable career spans more than half a century. At a young age, Bryan noticed the lack of children’s books with African American characters. Through his work as an artist, author, and educator, he has committed himself to filling that void in black representation by creating books about the African and African American experiences. Since his first illustrated volume of poems in 1967, Bryan has published more than 50 titles. A masterful storyteller through both words and visuals, Bryan sources inspiration from a variety of cultural sources including African folktales, spirituals, poetry, and music, creating vibrant work that has enthralled audiences for generations. While many of Bryan’s publications are illustrated children’s books, the original works of art from these publications appeal to all ages because, as Bryan notes, he strives for his work to be “like a bridge reaching across distances of time and space.”

This exhibition highlights the breadth of his prolific and varied creative output, featuring original art from 13 titles and a selection of independent work, including sketches made while serving in World War II and large puppets made from found objects washed ashore on the Maine island where he has lived for over 60 years.

Organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts.
The Portland Museum of Art presentation is made possible by the Maine Humanities Council
Corporate Sponsors: Bath Savings Institution and McCandless & Coburn LLC.

Image: Ashley Bryan (United States, born 1923), "The birds' colors were mirrored in the waters," circa 2002, from "Beautiful Blackbird," collage of cut colored paper on paper, 11 5/16 x 20 inches. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts. Gift of the artist in memory of Trinkett Clark.


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