Award-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney was born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia in 1939 and began drawing at the age of four. As a child, he had great difficulty with dyslexia in elementary school. However, his love and talent for drawing were useful in elevating his self-esteem and gaining the attention of his teachers and fellow classmates. In junior high school his work was noticed by cartoonist John Liney, who encouraged him to pursue the career of an artist.
Pinkney concentrated on commercial art at the Dobbins Vocational School as a teen, and was granted a full scholarship to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art, where he met his wife Gloria. Upon graduation, he held a variety of positions in the field of design and illustration, including as a greeting card designer. Eventually he founded Kaleidoscope Studios with fellow artists, and two years later he opened his own Jerry Pinkney Studio and focused on illustrating children’s books.
Pinkney’s illustrative work often incorporates African-American motifs. As an illustrator of children’s books, he has received a Caldecott Honor citation five times, the Coretta Scott King Award five times, four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards (most recently in 2006 for Little Red Hen), four Gold and four Silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (John Henry, 1994). In 2000, he was given the Virginia Hamilton Literary award from Kent State University, and in 2004, the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for outstanding contributions in the field of children’s literature.
Pickney’s 50-year career as a designer and illustrator is currently featured in the touring exhibition, “Witness – The Art of Jerry Pinkney.” The two-year exhibition began its tour at the Flint Institute of Art and will show arrive at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in June 2013.
“I expect to attend all of the above openings, and participate in the museums’ programming,” said Pinkney. “It is very exciting to have my work exhibited in these institutions. In many ways, the works have gained a new and expanded audience: museum visitors. It has always been my intent for my work to continue to breathe after publication. Also, that numerous projects shown together might tell of a larger narrative, one that speaks of my passions, interests and concerns. My hope is that what they take away from this exhibition will be that Jerry Pinkney cares deeply for people, making art and visual storytelling.”
The 20th Annual African-American Children's Book Fair will be held on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., Community College of Philadelphia, 17th Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, Pa., in the Gymnasium. In addition to Jerry Pinkney, over 20 nationally known bestselling authors and illustrators will participate. Many have won the American Library Association Coretta Scott King award. Confirmed are Tonya Bolden, Bryan Collier, Floyd Cooper, Deborah Gregory, R. Gregory Christie, Eric Velasquez, E.B. Lewis, Shadra Strickland, Sean Qualls, Kelly Starling Lyons, Vanessa Brantley Newton, Elizabeth Zunon, Walter Dean Myers, Nancy Devard, L. Divine, Kerri Conner, Jabari Asim, Sharon Flake, Deborra Richardson and Jerry Craft. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the book fair, call (215) 877-2012.