African Voices Summer 2017 AV Summer 2017 Digital Issue - Page 20

BOOK REVIEW

Paying Homage : An Artist ’ s Ode in Paintings on Wood with Paper , Scraps , and Memory

by Debbie A . Officer
If the popular adage art imitates life is true , then artist and children ’ s book author Javaka Steptoe has illustrated the core meaning of this in his most recent work . “ Radiant Child : The Story of Young – Jean-Michel Basquiat ” is vibrant , rich , and a refreshing addition to the genre of children ’ s publishing . It is a personal tribute using collages to piece together the journey and the varied inspirations of one of the 20th century ’ s most intriguing artists .
“ Radiant Child ” begins on the streets of Brooklyn where Basquiat was born . It is the place where children played double Dutch and hopscotch and where the young subject of Steptoe ’ s work would ’ ve eaten sweet ice while dreaming of becoming an artist . The traditional biography about an artist is usually accompanied by reprints of their original artwork . Steptoe ’ s decision to use his own original interpretation of Basquiat ’ s works gives us a refreshing , colorful , and engaging series of collages done on wood .
In a statement for his book ’ s current collage exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library — Central Branch , Steptoe states : “ for me , collage is a means of survival . It is how Black folks survived four hundred years of oppression , taking the scraps of life and transforming them into art forms .” This same piecing together of “ scraps ” is how Basquiat created his own art , using words , ephemera , and found objects to express his social and political views .
“ Radiant Child ” fills an important void in works about African-American artists . There are several children ’ s biographies in the canon about artists like Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence , and an abundance of works about Harlem Renaissance artists . “ Radiant Child ” is a bold look at the life of an artist whose works aren ’ t usually accessible to young children . It is a gentle introduction to a complicated and important artist . Steptoe uses his collage panels to pull the viewer in , using vibrant hues and detailed images . The reader ’ s eyes move from the center of the page to the narrative placed around the collage . The narrative also centers around Basquiat ’ s first inspiration — his mother .
“ Radiant Child ” ends with an important message about mental health . In sharing his inspiration for creating the book , Steptoe writes , “ I wanted young readers and the adults in their lives to be able to use Basquiat ’ s story as a catalyst for conversation and healing .”
“ Radiant Child ” is the winner of the 2017 Caldecott Medal and the 2017 Coretta Scott Illustrator Award . “ Radiant Child : The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat ” By Javaka Steptoe Little , Brown and Company Ages 6-9 years old ISBN : 978-0-316-21388-2
20 african Voices
BOOK REVIEW Paying Homage: An Artist’s Ode in Paintings on Wood with Paper, Scraps, and Memory by Debbie A. Officer If the popular adage art imitates life is true, then artist and children’s book author Javaka Steptoe has illustrated the core meaning of this in his most recent work. “Radiant Child: The Story of Young – Jean-Michel Basquiat” is vibrant, rich, and a refreshing addition to the genre of children’s publishing. It is a personal tribute using collages to piece together the journey and the varied inspirations of one of the 20th century’s most intriguing artists. “Radiant Child” begins on the streets of Brooklyn where Basquiat was born. It is the place where children played double Dutch and hopscotch and where the young subject of Steptoe’s work would’ve ea ѕݕЁݡɕ)ѥиQɅѥɅ䁅ЁѥЁ́Յ䁅ɕɥ)ѡȁɥݽɬMѕѽéͥѼ͔́ݸɥѕɕхѥ) եӊéݽɭٕ́́́ɕɕ͡əհ͕ɥ́)ݽ)%хѕЁȁ́éɕЁᡥѥЁѡ ɽ币AՉ)1Ʌ䃊P Ʌ ɅMѕѽхѕ胊qȁ́́٥م%Ё́܁ ́٥ٕȁչɕ)啅́ɕͥхѡ͍Ʌ́Ʌ͙ɵѡѼЁɵ̻tQ́ͅѽѡȁq͍Ʌϊt́) եЁɕѕ́ݸаͥݽɑ̰Ʉչ́Ѽɕ́́ͽѥ٥̸+qIЁ t́хЁٽݽɭ́Ёɥɥѥ̸Qɔɔ͕ٕɅɕéɅ́ѡ)Ёѥ́Iɔ ɑ)1ɕչݽɭ́Ё!ɱIͅѥ̸+qIЁ t́ЁѡѥЁݡ͔ݽɭ́ɕeЁՅ䁅ͥѼչɕ%Ё́ѱ)ɽՍѥѼѕхЁѥиMѕѽ͕́́́Ѽձѡ٥ݕȁͥ٥ɅЁՕ́)х̸Qɕˊé́ٔɽѡѕȁѡѼѡɅѥٔɽչѡQɅѥٔͼ)ѕ́ɽչ եӊéЁɅѥṔѡȸ+qIЁ t́ݥѠхЁͅЁхѠ%͡ɥ́Ʌѥȁɕѥѡ)Mѕѽɥѕ̰q$݅ѕչɕ́ѡձ́ѡȁٕ́ѼѼ͔ եӊéѽ䁅́хЁȁٕͅѥ)t+qIЁ t́ѡݥȁѡ܁ Ё5ѡ܁ ɕфMЁ%Ʌѽȁ݅ɐ+qIЁ QMѽ䁽eչѥЁ)5 եӊt) )مMѕѽ)1ѱ ɽݸ )̀ش啅́)%M 8ش()ɥY