Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney

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Honoring the work of Jerry Pinkney (1939-2021), Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney features more than seventy illustrations, dummy books, and working drawings from seven children’s books from 1993 to 2020. The works encompass issues of social justice, resilience, and tenacity in the face of adversity. They convey powerful messages related to the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America as well as personal tales of courage and aspiration. The range of works reveals Pinkney’s multifaceted talents as an inspired master watercolorist, draftsman, and storyteller.

The books represented in this show include Minty (1996), a story of Harriet Tubman in her youth, and A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation (2019). Works from the following children’s books are also featured: I Want to Be (1993); Goin’ Someplace Special (2001); God Bless the Child (2004); Sweethearts of Rhythm (2009); and The Little Mermaid (2020).
 

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This exhibition has been generously underwritten in part by the Pollack Family Foundation, Gail Bryan, La Ruth Hackney Gray, ​and additional supporters who cherish and respect Jerry Pinkney and his important legacy. 
This exhibition was organized by Gail Stavitsky, Chief Curator, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey. 


Honoring the Legacy of Jerry Pinkney

"...meaningful connection with others who are different from us, even if brief, can change our lives forever."
— Jerry Pinkney

Make a contribution to celebrate Jerry Pinkney's progressive vision and legacy.

Make a Contribution


Pinkney was one of the first illustrators to consistently include children of color in his more than 100 books, a progressive outlook that resonates with the Museum’s mission to champion greater equality and inclusion through arts and culture. The KMA has consistently sought opportunities to honor the diversity and respect for all ethnicities and races that Jerry so nobly visualized across his lifetime of work and philanthropy.

We invite you to show your support for Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney and celebrate the ideals that he embodied. Your generosity makes this exhibition and the accompanying educational programs possible. Thank you.

 

Exhibition Images

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"Zion Gasped. I Was Right, You Were a Mermaid!" Jerry Pinknney, "Zion Gasped. I Was Right, You Were a Mermaid!," p. 29-30 from The LIttle Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney, Watercolor and graphite on cold-pressed paper, 15 xz 21 1/2 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2020 Jerry Pinkney. Photograph by Peter Jacobs.
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"I walked home slowly" Jerry Pinkney, “I walked Home Slowly,” p. 4-5 from "I Want to Be" by Thylias Moss, Watercolor and graphite on Arches paper, 9 x 16 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 1993 Jerry Pinkney.
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"My Name’s Minty" Jerry Pinkney, “My Name’s Minty,” p. 16-17 from "Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman" by Alan Schroeder, Watercolor, graphite, gouache, and colored pencil on Arches paper, 12 1/4 x 19 7/8 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 1996 Jerry Pinkney.
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"Goin' Someplace Special" (cover art) Jerry Pinkney, “Goin’ Someplace Special,” cover from "Goin’ Someplace Special" by Patricia C. McKissack, Watercolor and graphite on watercolor paper, 15 1/8 x 21 5/8 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2001 Jerry Pinkney. Photograph by Peter Jacobs.
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"Rich relations give..." Jerry Pinkney, “Rich relations give…,” p. 30-31 from "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr., Watercolor and graphite on watercolor paper, 14 1/8 x 21 3/8 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2004 Jerry Pinkney. Photograph by Peter Jacobs.
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"Prayer for Peace" Jerry Pinkney, “Prayer for Peace,” p. 23 from "Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World" by Marilyn Nelson, Graphite, color pencil, watercolor, and collage on paper, 10 3/4 x 13 1/8 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2008 Jerry Pinkney.
picture for “And those battles continue to be fought”
“And those battles continue to be fought” Jerry Pinkney, “And those battles continue to be fought,” p. 40-41 from" A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation" by Barry Wittenstein, Watercolor, collage, graphite on watercolor paper, 14 1/8 x 21 15/16 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2019 Jerry Pinkney. Photograph by Peter Jacobs.
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"Them That’s Got, Shall Get" Jerry Pinkney, “Them That’s Got, Shall Get,” p. 6-7 from "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr., Watercolor and graphite on watercolor paper, 14 1⁄4 x 21 1⁄2 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2004 Jerry Pinkney.

Artist

"I am a storyteller at heart. There is something special about knowing that your
stories can alter the way people see the world, and their place within it."
— Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney was one of America’s most admired children’s book illustrators. He won the Caldecott Medal and five Caldecott Honors, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, among many other honors. In addition to being a friend to the Katonah Museum of Art, he was a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and IDEA committee and featured in exhibitions The Pinkneys: An Award-Winning Family of Artists and Writers (1999), Masters of Paper and Paint: The Art of Eric Carle and Jerry Pinkney (2002), Children Should be Seen: The Image of the Child in American Picture-Book Art (2007), Storied City: New York City in Picture Book Art (2011), Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators talk to Children about their Art (2013), and Illustrated Animals in Conversation (2019).
 

view a video of Jerry speaking about his process

Explore Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney

Jerry Pinkney's Creative Process

Pinkney wanted to be a storyteller through his pictures. He aimed to make illustrations to parallel the text, not mimic it, adding his own pictorial story lines. The following is a summary of his process to beautifully accomplish that.

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Checklist

View the illustrated checklist that accompanies the exhibition.

View checklist (PDF)
Press Release

Honoring the work of Jerry Pinkney (1939-2021), Tenacity & Resilience: The Art of Jerry Pinkney features more than seventy illustrations, dummy books, and working drawings from seven children’s books created between 1993 and 2020. The works, which encompass issues of social justice, resilience, and tenacity in the face of adversity, highlight the artist’s life-long commitment to adapting and reimagining familiar tales to represent more racially diverse characters, and mining the history of the United States for stories that center on, and celebrate the African American experience. The scope and content of the material reveals Pinkney’s multifaceted talents as an inspired master watercolorist, draftsman, and storyteller.

morelessPress Release (PDF)

Credits

All MAM programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, Carol and Terry Wall/The Vance Wall Foundation, Partners for Health Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Museum members.

Jerry Pinkney, “The Little Mermaid,” cover from The Little Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney., Watercolor, graphite, chalk, and gouache on watercolor paper, 17 5/8 x 23 3/4 inches, Courtesy of the Estate of Jerry Pinkney, © 2020 Jerry Pinkney. Photograph by Peter Jacobs. 
 

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