Artist, author, and educator Ashley Bryan (American, born 1923) says he can’t remember a time when he was not drawing and painting. His unending creative zeal has fueled a long and prolific career.
At a young age, Bryan noticed the lack of children’s books with African American characters. Bryan is committed to filling that void in black representation by creating books about the African and African American experiences.
Bryan’s art is as varied as his stories. His accomplished draughtsmanship is evident, whether he is drawing with pencil to create meticulous renderings, printing with cut linoleum to make vibrant celebrations of linear movement, or using tempera in colorful paintings that simulate his block prints and impart a similar visual intensity. In addition to his works on paper, Bryan also creates puppets from found objects and returns to one of the earliest forms of visual narrative in the stained-glass windows he fashions from sea glass and papier-mâché.
This exhibition showcases the breadth and depth of Bryan’s creative output, from the dynamic figure drawings he made while serving as a soldier in World War II, to his first published book in 1967, to his 2016 book Freedom Over Me, awarded a Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.