The Wilson Gallery at the University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum is now chock-full of dummies.
No, it’s not loaded with intellectually-challenged folks or inanimate “humans” used for testing the safety of automobiles; rather the intent is to occupy the gallery with dummy books.
The official definition of a dummy book is a three-dimensional, often hand-drawn prototype, which helps to organize the text, illustrations, and rhythm for the final published book. In layman’s terms, a rough draft of sorts, or a practice book, if you will.
The exhibition, features the work of Steven Kellogg, the author and illustrator of more than one hundred picture books, and is, as Dan Chudzinski, the curator of the Museum said, “a celebration of this crucial component of picture book development.”
The Museum, with a collection quickly approaching 15,000 works of art, is only able to display approximately two percent of its holdings at a given time. The vast majority of the Mazza illustrations are housed in the darkness of a temperature and humidity-controlled chamber; a vault specifically designed to preserve and protect artistic treasures. Many of the works have never before been publicly displayed, which served as the inspiration for this exhibition.
“Most visitors come to the Mazza Museum to seek out the original illustrations from their favorite picture books,” Chudzinski explained. “It is often the case that our viewers are encountering the final, polished renderings that were painstakingly recreated in the finished publication.” However, he added, when viewed alone, these works offer a limited understanding of the artistic journey: the final destination. The Museum houses an extensive collection of preliminaries, in particular a special format typically seen only by the artist and their publisher: dummy books.
Within the Wilson Gallery, visitors will encounter a selection of these original dummy books, displayed for the first time, in shadow boxes. Next to the shadow boxes hang the finished works that were utilized in the publication. More than six hundred high-resolution scans of each page from the dummy books have been used to create replicas, through which visitors may experience the evolution of each story. In several cases, the dummy books never fulfilled their ambitions to become a finished book. This exhibit serves as their introduction to the public.
It is with great enthusiasm that the Mazza Museum invites you to join us for a rare opportunity to explore the creative process behind a seldom-seen path towards publication: Illustration for Dummies.