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The kaleidoscopic world of Ed Emberley comes to the Akron Art Museum
Ed Emberley, Ed Emberley’s ABC, trade book, 7.75 x 10.25 in. closed, courtesy of the artist.

AKRON, OH.- The Akron Art Museum presents an exhibition of work by artist and beloved picture book illustrator Ed Emberley. Ed Emberley: Better You Than Me, opens on January 11, 2018 and includes an array of inventive artwork from the artist’s personal archive of hand drawn sketches, woodblock prints, mockups, and first edition books. Better You Than Me is comprised of a specially-curated selection from the first retrospective of Emberley’s work that was presented by the Worcester Art Museum in 2016 and 2017, along with never-before-exhibited drawings and prints.

Akron Art Museum Director of Education Alison Caplan said, “Ed Emberley’s drawing books empowered a generation of kids to live creatively by taking simple shapes and lines and making them into elaborate worlds. I love his statement, ‘Not everyone needs to be an artist, but everyone needs to feel good about themselves.’ Seeing the work in person inspires that energy in both adults who grew up with the work and new generations of young artists.”

Emberley received the Caldecott Medal in 1968 for his picture book Drummer Hoff. He is also well-known for the 1992 bestseller Go Away, Big Green Monster. Generations of artists and illustrators grew up with his inventive teaching book Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals (1970). The book launched a series of colorful, step by step drawing books that taught aspiring artists how to draw animals, faces, boats, dragons and more using simple shapes.

"It only took two of Ed Emberley’s Drawing Books to change me forever and set me on a path as an artist,” said Caleb Neelon, guest curator of the exhibition. "He is so restlessly creative that he worked in radically different ways, changing styles and media from book to book, and that's quite unusual.”

“Picture books are where so many children first experience art.” said Caplan. “They’re where we encounter the fundamental sense of play and imaginative creation that is central to art in a pure and joyful way. Ed Emberley’s work is such a great exploration of this because he has so many different approaches and styles, and yet they’re all his particular playful vision and way of looking at the world.”

The exhibition will contain interactive features, including a stylized reproduction of the artist's drawing and light table from his home studio—where visitors of all ages can try their hand at his techniques. Programming will include an opening night family drop-in event, workshops for early childhood educators and hands on school tours throughout the run of the show.

Ed Emberley: Better You Than Me will be on view from January 11 through July 15, 2018.

Ed Emberley: Better You Than Me was organized by Caleb Neelon for the Akron Art Museum

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