Wilson Gallery

Wilson Gallery

Illustration for Dummies



Curator’s Statement

From its humble beginnings in 1982, the Mazza Museum’s initial display of four illustrations has grown to become an unparalleled assembly of some of the greatest artistic treasures in the genre. With a collection quickly approaching 15,000 works of art, the museum 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. It is often the case that our viewers are encountering the final, polished renderings that were painstakingly recreated in the finished publication. However, when viewed alone, these works offer a limited understanding of the artistic journey: the final destination. In addition to an abundance of finished illustrations, the museum houses an extensive collection of preliminaries, in particular a special format typically seen only by the artist and their publisher: The Dummy Book.

A Dummy book serves as a three-dimensional, often hand-drawn prototype, to organize the text, illustrations, and rhythm for the final published book. This exhibition is a celebration of this crucial component of picture book development. Within the Wilson Gallery, visitors will encounter a selection of 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.

Dan Chudzinski
Curator, Mazza Museum