Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monsters & Miracles at the Skirball

Last week I posted on the classic animation and stop-motion exhibits at the Grammy Museum. This week, I highly recommend Monsters & Miracles: A Journey Through Jewish Picture Books on display at the Skirball Cultural Center for a few more of my favorite ways to tell a story.

The first gallery showcases a Haggadah (the Exodus story) in a beautiful illuminated manuscript dating back to the 1600s. The pictures were geared to keeping the women and children involved - and anyone else who couldn't read - during the Passover Seder. (I talked about my adoration of illuminated manuscripts in my Getty post from December.)

Jump ahead 400 or so years to modern times and another gallery, where "picture book creators encourage children to stand up for themselves, even (or especially) in seemingly helpless situations. They embolden children to face and overcome their worst fears" per the panel copy. Here you'll recognize Maurice Sendak's images for "Where The Wild Things Are" and William Steig's Shrek character riding on the donkey. I love learning that shrek means fear or terror in Yiddish, and we know how he mellows out in his movies. There are also some jaw-dropping cut paper illustrations, which is the style that most captivated me when I wanted to make children's books.

You can also see artwork for "Curious George" by H.A. and Margaret Rey. Did you know George was originally named Curious Fifi? The American publisher determined that Fifi wouldn't fly here. Would Curious Fifi have the same charming effect on you?!

Plan a full day when you go to the Skirball. The Jews on Vinyl temporary exhibit is wonderfully fun, and the Noah's Ark permanent gallery is a visual stunner. I'll look forward to hearing your stories afterward in my comment section!

Click here to go to the Skirball's Web site.

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