Mazza Museum to Host its 26th Annual Weekend Conference

Mazza Museum to Host its 26th Annual Weekend Conference

The University of Findlay’s Mazza Museum is hosting its 2023 Weekend Conference on November 10-11, 2023.

Each year Mazza’s two-day educational conference welcomes some of the top authors and illustrators to meet and present to local teachers, librarians, and children’s book enthusiasts. Those individuals looking to attend the event can register online.

The Weekend Conference will kick off on Friday, November 10 when Mazza welcomes its first two guest speakers to the stage. The event continues Saturday morning with refreshments, door prizes, and five more children’s book authors and illustrators.


This year’s featured guest authors and illustrators include (in order of appearance):

James Gurney

James Gurney was an outdoor kid, exploring in nature and through the pages of National Geographic. He taught himself to draw by reading books about Norman Rockwell and Howard Pyle. He studied archaeology in college and earned his degree in anthropology with honors. After research into ancient life led to a series of “lost world” paintings, he committed two years to writing and illustrating “Dinotopia: A Land Apart from Time.” James coined the term imaginative realism for “a convincing portrayal of something that cannot be directly observed.” He believes “making pictures is a proud calling. We should never forget how lucky we are to be able to conjure dreams out of thin air.”

Joe Sutphin

Ohio’s Joe Sutphin grew up with a dad who was an artist and he’s always spent a lot of time in nature, picking up too many critters. In fourth grade, he realized “the art spoke story to me in a way the written words could not.” He has illustrated Andrew Peterson’s “Wingfeather” Saga and the middle-grade novel “Word of Mouse” by James Patterson. Joe’s newest collaboration is the official graphic novelization of Richard Adams’ “Watership Down” (due Oct 2023). His delicate, detailed pen and ink drawings have been favorably compared to those of Garth Williams.

Daria Peoples

Daria Peoples worked in the children’s section of her hometown library at the age of nine (mostly reading picture books.) Her father gave her art lessons in their garage. After earning a degree in English/Black Studies and a master’s in education, she taught for 10 years. She has now authored and illustrated four books (“Hello, Mr. Blue”, the most recent) and illustrated “Show the World!” by Angela Dalton and Jessica M. Rinker’s “Gloria Takes a Stand.” Her main priority is “mirror-making” for her readers and “it is [her] greatest responsibility to reflect their truth.”

LeUyen Pham

LeUyen Pham’s family fled on the second-to-last transport out of Saigon before she was 2 years old. To honor her mother’s wish that she be a lawyer, she first majored in political science at UCLA. The head of the art department there recognized her talent and helped her change course. She has illustrated more than 100 books for children, including the “Caldecott Honor Bear Came Along” and “The Together Tree”, about standing up to intolerance and extending kindness. She says a book sits with its reader on a rainy day and whispers, “‘You’re okay.’ It’s like a hug made solid.”

Brandon Dorman

Brandon Dorman began his art career creating Halloween window paintings for his neighbors. A pioneer in digital illustration, he found it “really helped [his] randomness” in “painting and drawing out of his head.” His art has graced the covers of hundreds of books including the “Goosebumps” series. Brandon illustrated Jack Prelutsky’s “The Wizard” and wrote and illustrated “Pirates of the Sea, Santa’s Stowaway,” and the middle-grade chapter book, “Hoolie and the Hooligans: The Alien Who Ate My Socks.” He likes eating string cheese and playing flag football.

Abi Cushman

Abi Cushman studied art in Boston and Melbourne, Australia. She has written and illustrated “Animals Go Vroom!,” “Soaked!,” and “Wombats Are Pretty Weird” which include sidebars, comic panels, die-cuts, and lots of humor. Her work centers around animal characters, the only thing she really enjoys drawing. Abi combines traditional and digital approaches but begins with a mechanical pencil on printer paper. She enjoys “running, playing tennis, and eating nachos (yes, at the same time).” Abi’s illustration philosophy is, “Yes, that otter needs a monocle.”

Alexandra Boiger

Alexandra Boiger grew up in Munich, Germany, surrounded by the forests and mountains of Bavaria. That setting is the backdrop for her “Max and Marla” books about two aspiring Olympians. Her 30 books include the “She Persisted” series authored by Chelsea Clinton and Marilyn Singer’s “Tallulah” books. She works in a variety of media including digital format. Alexandra loves chocolate, cookies, and hiking and encourages young artists to “be honest with [themselves] and try to understand [their] world.”


For more information on Mazza Museum’s 2023 Weekend Conference, including the full schedule and registration, please visit the Mazza Museum’s Conference page.