Original work by David Macaulay, author of The Way Things Work and the new book The Way We Work, will be on view today at Tacoma Art Museum
in David Macaulay: The Way He Works January 17 through June 14, 2009. As part of the exhibition, Macaulay will design and create a site-specific work at the museum in early January. His past building interventions have been on non-traditional spaces such as gallery floors, ceilings, and walls and incorporated the museum in a unique way.
For more than thirty years, Macaulay's books have illustrated and explained the how and why of things, from airplanes to pyramids, subway tunnels to remote controls, the circulatory system to flying buttresses. In the exhibition The Way He Works, the spotlight turns on the artist himself, following his creative process from sketch to finished book. This exhibition brings visitors inside the artist's studio and his lively and engaging imagination, exploring how he became a professional illustrator and the various methods and media he has used to create his books. Also included are some of the detours and wrong turns along the way giving visitors real insight into the highs and lows of the creative process. The exhibition features sketches, working drawings, source materials, three-dimensional models, page layouts, and completed illustrations from such books as Cathedral, Mosque, Black and White, Motel of the Mysteries, and The New Way Things Work, as well as his newly published book, The Way We Work.
"David's illustrations alone are worth an exhibition; he earned a Caldecott and a MacArthur 'Genius' award for his work, and he is a draftsman of incredible skill," said Margaret Bullock, Curator of Collections and Special Exhibitions for Tacoma Art Museum. "But in talking with him, we agreed that we wanted to explore his process and show viewers what it takes to get from that first germ of an idea to a published book. In the way that he explores the inner-workings of the world around us, we're hoping to explore the how and why of David Macaulay.'
"The illustrations in David's books are a perfect example of the links between visual literacy and written literacy," said Paula McArdle, Director of Education and Public Programs at Tacoma Art Museum and co-curator of the exhibition. "Studies show that students who can decipher the meaning behind an image are better able to translate that skill into what they read. We strive to help students make those connections during every visit."
Macaulay grew up in a family with parents who were always making things. As a child, he was fascinated by how things work. For him, drawing is a way of truly grasping how things are constructed. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (also the alma mater of Tacoma glass artist Dale Chihuly) where he earned a degree in architecture and went on to teach for twenty-five years as an illustrator.
His first book, Cathedral, published in 1973, inspired a series about buildings, including City, Castle, Pyramid, Mill, Underground, Unbuilding, and Mosque. His show-and-tell style of illustration makes the physics, engineering, and architecture accessible to readers. PBS created two series based on Macaulays building books.
Macaulay's books have sold more than three million copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. The Way Things Work was on the New York Times bestseller list for fifty weeks. His many awards include the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the MacArthur Fellowship, the Boston GlobeHorn Book Award, the Christopher Award, and the Washington PostChildren's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. He was a two-time nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and received the Bradford Washburn Award, presented by the Museum of Science in Boston to an outstanding contributor to science.
This exhibition is organized by Tacoma Art Museum with generous sponsorship provided by Business Internet Services and Helen and Peter Bing.
The Way He Works is the most recent in a series of exhibitions that highlight Tacoma Art Museum's dedication to visual literacy. Past exhibitions in this series have featured work by artists/illustrators like Eric Carle and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, artwork alongside poetry like the Chuck Close/Bob Holman and Mary Randlett/Denise Levertov pairings, and artistry of calligraphy and book arts like The Saint John's Bible.
Tacoma Art Museum's Art Resource Center has a wide selection of Macaulay's books available to read during museum visits. It is also the only library in the region to have a complete collection of all of the Caldecott winning books.
Tacoma Art Museum connects people and builds community through art. The museum serves the diverse communities of the region through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. The museums five galleries display an array of major national shows, the best of Northwest art, creatively themed exhibitions, and historical retrospectives. In addition, there is an Education Wing for children, adults, and seniors with an art resource center, classroom, and studio for art making. Tacoma Art Museum is located in Tacoma's Museum District, near the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, and historic Union Station.