Child’s play

Foster Gallery opens semester with the illustrations of children’s author Brian Selznick

Story by Sam Martinez, Staff Writer

The Foster Gallery opened up the semester Thursday night with an exhibit featuring illustrations from critically acclaimed children’s illustrator and writer Brian Selznick.

Selznick has been illustrating and writing children’s books since the early 90s, and it was nostalgic to UW-Eau Claire student Amanda Boehm.

“I recognized a lot of the work from the 90s more so than anything after that,” Boehm said. “I remember being a kid and these books would come out. The teachers would be excited about them and then the kids would get excited about them, so it was nice to see a few of those here today.”

The American Library Association awarded Selznick the Caldecott Medal, an annual award granted to an artist of a children’s picture book, in 2008 for his book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabaret”, which he wrote and illustrated. This book was in turn adapted into the feature film “Hugo” by famed director Martin Scorsese in 2011.

The artwork on display has been rented from the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, who organize a traveling exhibition every year said Tom Wagener, director of the Foster Gallery in Haas. Wagener went on to say that although the Foster Gallery has traditionally welcomed artwork from book illustrators, it is rare that one artist has their own exhibit.

“This is unique in that this is one person’s show,” Wagener said. “Quite often we try to have two or three artists. We’ve had several book illustration shows over the years, and at least a couple children’s books. So this one is kind of following in the tradition.”

Typically,  the faculty art show is granted the first slot of the semester in the Foster Gallery, however this year the only time that the art of Selznick was available for rental was this September. The faculty art show will now be displayed in November.

Although the illustrations on display in the Foster Gallery may look familiar to those who have read anything Selznick has worked on, these pieces are all the original copies that Selznick created.

Illustration Professor Ned Gannon, who worked with Tom Wagener to get this exhibit to Haas, said that one can recognize a Selznick illustration if they have seen enough of his material.

“I think he does have a distinct style you can recognize once you are familiar with it, but it’s not as distinct as some illustrators,” Gannon said. “I think what is really distinct about him is the way he composes images, the way he structures a composition and the way that he treats materials. He does have kind of a hatching style that you see in a lot of the drawings that I think is somewhat of a characteristic, but I think it’s the way he puts a picture together as much as the way he draws.”

The Foster Gallery is located in the first floor of the art department in Haas, and the Brian Selznick exhibit will be on display until September 25.