Prof of the VC department, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem
The definition of the classical picture-book resonates the codependent relationship of text and image. Thus, it is quite challenging to examine some of the western worlds’ most appreciated and loved picture-books and separate between their text and illustrations. In some ways this could even be considered an abomination, disrupting the harmony and wholesomeness of a cultural icon and a work of art.
In my 25 years journey as an Illustrator teacher, I have often observed my student’s hesitance and insecurities when it comes to asserting their point of view and conceptualizing clear visual interpretations of a given text. In order to cultivate ownership, confidence and clarity, I have designed a disruptive assignment that forces 3rd year undergraduate illustration students to challenge themselves, their notions and traditions. This 5 week long assignment invites a new illustrated interpretation to classic picture-books, their loved characters and scenes.
Alice in Wonderland, Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince, Moominsummer Madness and Petit Nicola, are some of the beloved children’s books and picture-books my students had to reimagine. The need to overcome what they know and feel in regard to these books, amplified their engagement and henceforth their motivation to come up with a new fresh and un-influenced version to those classical books. This creative endeavor serves to overcome the imprint of a classical hegemonic imagery, and the challenge to phrase a new vision of the classical text, this has empowered the students to see themselves as capable agents of original ideas, points of view and values. Overcoming the obstacle of ignoring the sanctity of such famous works of art, demands a bold visual argument, one that can justify the move itself and convince of its validity. In the process of reaching these conclusions the students have to recognize the quality of the text, analyze the original work, integrate their own visual language, and eventually construct new meanings.
Merav Salomon is an internationally acclaimed Illustrator, a Book Artist and the founder of Salomon & Daughters books- an independent publishing house for visual books. She is a Professor for Illustration at the Graduate and Undergraduate Visual Communication departments and the Head of the Art & Design Teaching Centre at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem.