One of Springfield’s most celebrated author/illustrators will be recognized with an upcoming exhibition at the Springfield Museum of Art.
“Lois Lenski: Storied Prints,” opening Friday, July 12 in the Beach Gallery, will capture the prolific and award-winning children’s writer with a variety of prints, illustrations, manuscripts and other media from her career in a collaboration between the Museum of Art and Clark County Public Library.
The museum will host an opening reception at 5:30 p.m. Friday, followed by a lecture at 6:15 by Bobbie Malone, author of the biography “Lois Lenski: Storycatcher,” which captured the 2016 Indies Editor’s Choice Prize in Nonfiction.
The exhibition grew out of discoveries. Local historian Kevin Rose’s children started reading Lenski books and he got curious about her and found Lenski was born the exact same day as another Springfield legend, actress Lillian Gish, suggesting a project about remarkable local women.
While Gish has had tributes and retrospectives, he thought Lenski deserved the same and suggested it to the library, which has a room named for her.
Meanwhile, in the Museum of Art’s archives, according to curator Erin Shapiro, there was a collection of a dozen or so black and white woodblock prints discovered. Those along with the library’s collection of Lenski prints, letters, photography and memorabilia will form the exhibition.
“There’s a lot here that hasn’t been exhibited before, some that was just sitting in our files,” Shapiro said.
Lenski worked on more than 98 books, capturing the imaginations of adults and children, and received various awards including the Newbery Medal, one of the highest honors for children’s literature, in 1946 for “Strawberry Girl.”
Shapiro said Lenski not only wrote and illustrated her own books, but also contributed illustrations for other’s books and wrote poetry later in life.
“The exhibition will cover the chronology of her career,” she said.
It’s also a chance to serve an underappreciated part of the art world.
“This really brings to life children’s illustrations as fine art. They that haven’t been elevated in status in the canon,” Shapiro said.
The exhibition is free and open to the public; the museum’s other exhibits are subject to admission fees. It will be open regular museum hours through Oct. 27.
Also at the exhibition, there will be information about a Lenski Walk put together by Rose and his staff coming this summer to trace her local journey.
“I’m hopeful there will be more opportunities like this in Springfield recognizing our talented local artists,” he said.
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