What's Old is New Again: Art of the Ancient Americas

When Stan and I went to The Mint Museum (Randolph) the other weekend to check out the Tony DiTerlizzi exhibit, we had to walk through their 'Art of the Ancient Americas' exhibit to get there. It warranted more time than we had to give it. Here's what the Mint's website says about it:
The ancient New World, one of the illustrious cradles of human civilization, is featured at The Mint Museum. This wide-ranging collection showcases more than 2,500 artworks from the ancient Americas. The museum’s collection, the majority having been donated by Dr. and Mrs. Francis Robicsek, is one of the largest in the United States, spanning 4,300 years of artistic creativity from 2800 BCE to 1500 CE, and presenting more than forty of the major societies from ancient Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador), Central America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama), and Andean South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile).
     (All of these images can be viewed larger by right-clicking on them to read their descriptors.)

     Some of the pieces fell right in line with the gruesome human sacrifice stories you've heard about. (Only click on this image to read the descriptor if you're okay with being grossed out.)
But most of what I saw was downright beautiful (not gross at all) and modern-looking - take this Nascan/Peruvian vulture image from 100 B.C. to 100 A.D. for instance. It looks like modern-day poster art!
Or this awesome crab from Lima, A.D. 200-800.
And don't you want to draw this Peruvian stylized jaguar from 400-200 B.C.?
Truly, we try to teach students how to stylize images, find their creative voice. Well, the early Americas have had a wealth of that going on throughout ancient history! For instance, I loved this earthenware woman from Peru, 1000 - 1400 C.E.
I also love that the women were revered in these ancient societies, like this female effigy from Costa Rica in 800-1200 CE
"Throughout ancient Central America, women are rendered in their role as creators and nurturers of children, as well as holding principal ritual positions in social and religious institutions."
Perhaps they weren't as objectified as women are now? Certainly, not in the same way!
     Best of all, it was obvious they had a sense of humor - as demonstrated by this Mayan incense burner from Guatemala in 600-900A.D.
They also had a sense of wonder and magic, as demonstrated by this effigy of a dwarf.
The exhibit states that "The ancient Maya believed them [dwarfs] to be the children of the Chacs—the rain gods."
     All said, except for the sacrifices, they didn't seem all that different from us, and they were most certainly lovers of art and beauty... beauty that can still influence our art today!
     I hope you can make it to The Mint Museum (Randolph) to see the exhibit in person, as there are about 2,490 more pieces to see. It's really remarkable!

Coloring Page Tuesday - Heidi

     This card was for Tina Hanlon, folklorist extraordinaire - Heidi, the ultimate mountain girl, of course! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers." Or MerBaby's Lullaby, out this summer with great reviews from Kirkus and PW!
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Party at The Shack!

I have fond memories of the parties we used to have during my Graphic Design BFA at the University of Georgia. We often met at this old building by a river - I think it may have been an old mill or some such. It wasn't unlike 'The Shack' at Winthrop University.
It's an old building that sits next to the colliseum, the lake, and the baseball field. It's really a lovely setting even after a surprise rain shower.
Department of Design students had been planning the party for a few weeks, so it was a warm welcome. (Here are two of my students, Josh and Sierra.)
The inside is somewhat rustic with a balcony running around the top of the room (not sure what for other than watching the fun below).
The students set up tables with games like 'Cards Against Humanity' - now there's a way to get to know your students and have them get to know you - HA!!! (I did quite well. LOL!)
They also set up beads and string for jewelry making, and coloring pages - these are artists after all...There were also stickie notes to draw funny little ditties that grew throughout the party.
I'm not sure what this row of students was all about - some game I assume.
And there was pizza, of course. It's college, there has to be PIZZA!!!
Everyone was taking pictures too. Here were some of our students on the back patio overlooking the lake...
And more students posing in the 'photo booth.'
And Karen taking a selfie with Zhabiz taking a selfie with students with masks.
And there was the faculty, of course, of which I am so proud to be a part!!! Here's me with Karen, Jason, Sangwon, and Zhabiz.
The students did a great job - they threw an awesome party! I look forward to the next one!

Silly Teen Wears Costume to Greet Brother Every Day

I love this! A seventeen-year-old, who will be going off to college next year, is saying a prolonged 'goodbye' to his younger brother that neither of them will ever forget. As the younger brother gets off the bus each day, the older brother greets him wearing a different silly costume every day. It's embarrassing the heck out of his little brother, but the love between them is so tangible, it's making everybody all sappy. People have even started sending costumes to the older brother to help him keep the tradition going. I dare you not to cry happy tears watching this. (Click the image to view on Youtube.)

"Identity" at Winthrop University

One of the joys of my new position as Associate Professor at Winthrop University is that I pass through the Lewandowski Gallery to get to my office every day. The gallery was named for the American Precisionist artist Edmund Lewandowski. Per Wikipedia, "his final position was as Professor and Chairman of the Art Department at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, where he served from 1973 until 1984." As such, there is a lovely collection of his work floating around campus. I especially love his acrylic sculpture. (I'll have to get a good photo of the one in the conference room for you.) Meanwhile...
     The Lewandowski Gallery is a constantly changing display of the amazing talent we have here at Winthrop. The current show is called 'Identity' - here's what it's all about.

(Click to read larger in a new window.)
Portraits and representational pieces line the walls.

Of course, a few of them really stand out to me. For instance, the amazingly talented graduate student/instructor Oscar Soto does amazing things with wood.
Here are two of his pieces from an earlier show. I truly love his work! (If you're interested in purchasing any pieces from him, I can put you in touch.)
I loved Rebekah Wood's "Unwilling."
This drawing by Griffin Cordell makes everyone oooo and ahhhhh.
I loved these boxes titled "The Kannaday's Kitchen Smelled Like Lemon Pepper Chicken" by Kasey Sears.
Wouldn't it be fun to wear these earrings by Jordan Black?
I loved Rhianna Rausch's "Funhouse" because I had a similar project during my undergrad sculpture classes - the idea/medium on the outside has to be opposite to the idea/medium on the inside.

But all said, I think my favorite piece was 'Eye-dentity' by Emily Shelton. Look at all those pillow eyes staring at you!!
Truly, what a treat to be able to enjoy all this talent every day!

Todd Strasser's SUMMER OF '69

Todd Strasser is a powerhouse of a writer and has become a regular here at dulemba.com. I'm happy to have him back to talk about his newest novel Summer of '69.
The Novel I Never Expected to Write
by Todd Strasser

      This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of my first young adult novel, Angel Dust Blues. Like many first novels, it was autobiographical, the story of a young man living two discordant lives. In his suburban home town, he is a druggie (or “head” as we called ourselves back in the day). But when he’s with his clean-cut girlfriend a few ‘burbs away, he pretends to be the personification of a straight arrow. The story reaches a crisis when he’s arrested for selling marijuana – a serious felony offense back in 1967 when suburban police detectives weren’t even sure how to spell it (No joke. I was 17, handcuffed and trembling with fear, while the detective who arrested me canvassed the police station for someone who knew the correct spelling. “Is it with an H or a J?”).
      The book received good reviews and even stirred up some controversy. In a story titled, “Book for Young Adults Splits Manhasset,” The New York Times reported: “Roughly 50 parents and other concerned citizens of Manhasset appeared at the July meeting of the library board to protest the selection of Mr. Strasser's book as part of the summer [reading] series. The book, a spokesman for the parents said, was sexually explicit and ‘blasphemous’ in a way that ‘does not represent the moral values and standards this community believes in and tries to inculcate in its children.’”
      So while the book was a minor success and certainly helped launch my career, its frank treatment of “sensitive” topics as drug use and pre-marital sex (does anyone even use that phrase anymore?), not to mention two appearances of the f-bomb, probably limited its readership. I went on to write many more YA novels, though none ever as autobiographical as the first.
      Until now. My newest novel, Summer of ’69, didn’t start out as a prose novel, but rather as a graphic collaboration between myself and my artist daughter, Lia. Fortunately, Lia took the news in stride when my editor at Candlewick said she would prefer the story be written entirely in prose. But while my daughter took it in stride, I couldn’t. Suddenly I was faced with the daunting challenge of writing the novel I’d never expected to write.
      I’d known from the start that the story would be personal, dealing with my need to escape via drugs the stresses of my parents’ loveless marriage, my father’s adultery and disappointment that I hadn’t lived up to his expectations, and the very real danger of being drafted by a military desperately in need of cannon fodder for the War in Viet Nam. And I knew the story would end with an untimely death shortly after about 400,000 of us found ourselves marooned in a muddy wasteland at a grossly over-attended but enthralling music festival called Woodstock.
      But so long as I’d imagined the story as a graphic novel, I’d felt a protective divide between myself and the narrative, a sort of demilitarized zone, if you will. The graphic novel I’d envisioned creating with Lia would have been short on prose and long on illustrations -- more a summary of my activities, as well as the history of our country during that summer -- than a deep and personally revealing examination of my life. But without Lia acting as a buffer, it was just me facing a past I’d spent nearly 50 years avoiding.
     The result is a novel that is as honest and revealing about myself as anything I’ve written. Quite a bit more revealing than Angel Dust Blues. It’s a story I found uncomfortable to recollect and difficult to write. Luckily, I had the guidance of a phenomenal editor who at times seemed to intuit more about me than I knew about myself, and who often pressed me to go deeper into my feelings when I was inclined to take a glib and easy way out. I think it’s one thing to briefly recall something troubling that happened in your life long ago. But it is quite another to dwell on and inspect it for the hours and sometimes days that it takes to write about it. That forces you to really consider the fears, resentments, desires, and regrets, of the characters involved. And when those characters are you and your own family, it’s a pretty emotional undertaking. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=bildungsroman (I suspect that some students may find it interesting to learn that sometimes for the writer, a novel is an exploration into the unknown – or at least into the conveniently forgotten --in which we take the reader along for the ride.)
      This is not to imply that I have regrets. In fact, rarely in my experience has writing a book felt as liberating and edifying as this one did … once it was completed. Kirkus called it a bildungsroman, and after I looked up what that meant, I have to agree. It was an opportunity to dig into the past -- especially into the more painful, vexing, and regretful parts that I have spent a good deal of my time since trying to avoid and forget. Through writing this book, not only did I come to understand more about who I was at that time, but more about my relationship to my parents, and their relationship with each other. In fact, I believe I experienced real epiphanies that I doubt I otherwise would have had (except, possibly, in a therapist’s office).
      The book took three years to write. Somewhere near the end I experienced yet one more utterly unexpected sensation, one unlike any I have ever felt upon finishing a novel. It was akin to a sense of release and completion -- not regarding a single novel, but pertaining to a life-long journey. It felt as if I’d told not just a story, but had finally told The Story, at least my story. The one that had always been deep inside, the one that may have accounted for much of the reason I began writing in the first place, one that I never imagined actually coming to fruition. Yes, it was painful and disturbing to write, but now that the work is done, I’m sure glad I did it.

Winthrop Achieves Best Overall U.S. News & World Report Ranking in 25 Years

I only just moved here, so this is a result of those who came before me - but I'm still proud!

Winthrop Achieves Best Overall U.S. News & World Report Ranking in 25 Years

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — Winthrop University was recognized for its strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, its attention to veterans, the social mobility of its graduates, and as an innovative school, according to the U.S. News & World Report's 2020 edition of "Best Colleges."

      The Rock Hill institution moved from 25th to 17th place among regional universities in the south, according to the U.S. News rankings released on Sept. 9.

      Winthrop President Dan Mahony noted this is Winthrop’s best overall ranking in 25 years and affirms the university’s commitment to educating students in a well-rounded, student-centered culture. “We are very pleased by our large jump in the overall rankings and to be recognized in so many different categories that are important to us. It shows how unique and impressive the Winthrop experience really is,” said Mahony. “As always, I appreciate the work of the Winthrop faculty and staff who make these recognitions possible. While we do not chase such rankings, it’s always a source of pride and accomplishment to see our campus’ hard work recognized in prestigious publications like U.S. News & World Report.”

      Here is where Winthrop stood out among the newsmagazine’s Best Regional Universities in the South:
· In addition to being in 17th place for Southern public and private institutions, Winthrop is ranked 8th among public universities.
· Rose from 17th to 8th place among best colleges for veterans
· Tied for 10th place among most innovative schools
· Climbed to 11th place from 15th place for best undergraduate teaching as judged by peers
· Ranked 22nd for social mobility, a new category that measures how well schools graduated students who received federal Pell Grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually)

      U.S. News & World Report has published its “Best Colleges” rankings since 1983. The rankings can be used as a starting point for families searching for the best educational experience for their student, and the guidebook enables them to compare institutions on such areas as freshman retention, graduation rates and the student-faculty ratios.

      In August, the Princeton Review named Winthrop as one of 142 schools in the "2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region," while Washington Monthly included Winthrop among the top 80 schools nationwide and three in South Carolina in the student voting category of its college rankings.

      For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or e-mail her at longshawj@winthrop.edu.

Coloring Page Tuesday - Princess Leia

     Winthrop provided me with a new iPad Pro, and I'm having a blast working on it in Procreate. I can get some beautiful line quality - something I'm trying to impress on my students. (I'm turning them all into line geeks.) Meanwhile, what do you think Princess Leia was like as a child? Did she have a stuffed Wookie? Maybe so! CLICK HERE for more coloring pages.
     Remember, I create my coloring pages to draw your attention to my books! For instance...
Crow Not Crow - written by New York Times Best-selling author Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple. Kirkus calls it "a solid choice for introducing the hobby [birdwatching] to younger readers." Or MerBaby's Lullaby, out this summer with great reviews from Kirkus and PW!
If my news and images add value to your life, won't you please
Just love this one image? Consider a one-time donation...
     I create my coloring pages for teachers, librarians, booksellers, and parents to enjoy for free with their children, but you can also purchase rights to an image for commercial use, please contact me. If you have questions about usage, please visit my Angel Policy page.

Tony DiTerlizzi at The Mint Museum!

I was thrilled to learn that Tony DiTerlizzi has an exhibit at The Mint Museum (Randolph location) in Charlotte, North Carolina right now.
I've known Tony for years mostly from the Decatur Book Festival; although, he first came on my radar when I was working for a packaging company in Chattanooga, Tennessee... one of our primary clients was Moon Pie (yes, that Moon Pie). We received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon Pie Adventure. I completely flipped over it. The artwork was beyond anything I'd ever seen. And even though I already knew I wanted to illustrate children's books, I think it was Jimmy that put me on the actual path to making it happen. Of course, I had to email him to see if I could arrange a field trip for our Winthrop Design students to visit the exhibit and listen to Tony talk about his process. Happily, it's all coming together swimmingly well - YAY! Meanwhile, considering I'd never been to The Mint before, and that I might have to carpool, I thought it would be a good idea to do a dry run... and be able to enjoy the exhibit without distractions! So, Stan and I headed up to Charlotte this past weekend. The museum itself sits in the midst of a wide field with old trees - gorgeousness in the city.
The museum itself is magic the moment you step into it. There were DiTerlizzi characters scattered everywhere!
Tony's fairies hid in nooks and crannies and simply hung out everywhere you turned around.
The gift shop was full of Tony's critters in every form you can imagine - from stationary to miniatures.
Being the humble guy that Tony is, the exhibit begins with a tribute to the illustrators who were his creative influences. No surprise, thre was Brian Froud, Arthur Rackham, and many other familiar greats. Although, I didn't see Garth Williams. I'll have to ask him about that one.

Click the image above to see it larger.
The exhibit itself was set up like a book, with a Table of Contents.
What a thrill to see some of Tony's reference materials for Jonny Zangwow!
And how he used references for some of his Dungeons and Dragons work.
Despite all of his amazing color work (mostly acrylic gouache on Bristol), his pencil drawings were probabaly my favorites. The sheer skill at that sketchy stage was simply breathtaking.
Okay, the color work was breathtaking too. And I suspect Tony painted the wall mural that many of his pieces hung against.
There's nothing like seeing hand-made artwork up close and personal. It reminds me why I want to continue to work traditionally. This was the piece he created to advertise the exhibit.
Also special was the peek inside his studio. They had enormous life-sized photos of Tony's work creative space, his desk (with desks in front for patrons to try their hands at drawing like Tony...
and his bookshelf.
Stan got into reading The Spiderwick Chronicles while we were there - that might be where you first heard of Tony's work if you don't follow children's books.
There was also work from his books: Ted, The Spider and the Fly, Wizards of the Coast, and his newest series, Wondla.
     It was lovely to enjoy the exhibit at my leisure. Next time I see it, it will be a little crazy as I'll be surrounded by students - and Tony too! Don't worry, I'll share that with you as well!
#artswinthrop #designwinthrop