Exhibiting Hoosier Illustrators
Writer / Janelle Morrison Photo / JJ Kaplan
This July, SullivanMunce Cultural Center will present its Children’s Illustration Exhibition: Hoosier Artists. The exhibition will showcase illustrators of children’s literature. It is the first exhibition of its kind at the local center and will highlight the imaginative works of 13 illustrators, some of which are also published authors. The exhibition will include illustrators working on board books, early readers, picture books, middle grade, young adult and everything in between. The exhibition will officially open on July 14 and is free to the public.
The exhibition is the result of the collaborative efforts of Cynthia Young, SullivanMunce Cultural Center’s executive director, and Devon Kondaki, author/illustrator whose work will also be featured along with the exhibiting illustrators. Kondaki created children’s picture books, music, poetry and art exhibitions and performs at schools. He is best known for his character Winzlow, the adventurous fuzzy gnome, and for creating the world of WinzlowNation.
“I had the idea to do this a few years ago and thought an exhibition like this one would be a great way to combine two arts, writing and illustrating,” Young said. “It creates the opportunity for children and
adults to see the process of illustrating children’s books from start to finish. Like visual art, the public sees the finished product but often doesn’t understand what it means to be an illustrator and what is involved in the creation process.”
“When I create the programming for SullivanMunce, I am always looking for ways to mix it up and appeal to a broad audience,” she explained. “I’m looking at ways that we can bring in new exhibits, and if it’s not an exhibit, then I look for unique and fun programs that we can do in a class.
We’ve had culinary classes like cheese-making classes. We are somewhat limited with those classes because we do not have an actual kitchen, but we bring in things that can do onsite. We are also proud of our outreach programs that include all three of our missions: art, history and genealogy. We visit senior centers where the seniors can discuss the artifacts and talk about their own personal stories. We are actively collecting artifacts right now because they’re going to be history tomorrow.”
Young expressed that SullivanMunce is always looking at ways to engage the changing demographics of its visitors and residents from within Zionsville. Younger families and people are moving into the town and will, hopefully, become the future stewards of the town’s artifacts, records and exhibits.
As part of this initiative, Young reached out to Kondaki, and the two collaborated on an exciting new exhibition that targets the area’s youth and adults.
“I connected with Devon, and since he had a lot of connections with illustrators, he selected the artists,” Young said. “I’m hoping that visitors will learn something about the illustration process and enjoy getting to talk with the illustrators. Typically, authors get to speak to groups of people more than the illustrators of the books do, and so this is an opportunity for them to get exposure.”
The exhibition will provide an opportunity for the illustrators to discuss the relationships between illustrators and authors when they are not one in the same. They can explain the collaboration between the story and the images and how they come together to bring a story to life.
“There is definitely some incredible talent that will be on display here,” Kondaki said. “There are definitely more opportunities for illustrators today, and there is a growing market for them. The connections for illustrator communities are growing and are definitely more supportive than what they were 50-60 years ago. When Cynthia told me that she was interested in having this exhibition, I reached out to my group of talented friends and illustrators. I want people who come to this exhibition to see the talent that is here in Indiana. Indiana is not typically thought of first when looking at areas throughout the nation that produce high-level artists, but there have been some big names that have come from Indiana such as Garfield and Clifford.”
Kondaki stressed that he is not a fan of telling children that they have to be inspired by anything that they see. He wants them to come to the exhibit to experience something fun and different. “I don’t want to tell the kids what to do or that they should be inspired by the illustrators, but if we can expose them to local talented illustrators, and they have fun with this exhibition, then that’s the goal.”
There will be an opportunity for attendees to purchase books by the author/illustrators as well as book signings. The exhibition is free to the public, and donations to the SullivanMunce Cultural Center are always accepted and appreciated. The donations support the center’s programs and classes for the community.
For more information on other exhibits and programs at SullivanMunce Cultural Center, visit sullivanmunce.org.
Official dates for exhibition:
July 15 – August 26
Opening Reception: July 14, 5-8 pm
Caleb Allen, Claudio Molina, Devon Kondaki, Jessie Strock, Jingo M. de la Rosa, Laura Winslow, Matt Vincent, Nathan Clement, Patricia McCormick, Paul and Alice Sharp, Rebecca Stockert, Sharon Vargo, T.C. Bartlett