07 Nov 2017

Painter and Poet: The Wonderful World of Ashley Bryan

High Museum

Reviewed by Andy Gambrell

Ashley Bryan has illustrated and published more than fifty books, each with deceptive playfulness, appealing to the wonder of a child while deftly presenting messages on topics ranging from African American self-perception to the dehumanizing legacy of slavery. "Painter and Poet: The Wonderful World of Ashley Bryan" presents an impressive survey of the artist's work at the High Museum.

Strong positive and negative forms manifest in The Adventures of Aku, elegant cut paper brings Beautiful Blackbird to life, and concentric shapes drive visual rhythm in All Things Bright and Beautiful. Most powerful is Freedom Over Me, a collection of expressive mixed-media portraits of slaves for whom Bryan has invented histories and restored humanity.

Bryan's defiant optimism was forged in a Depression-era childhood and shaped by invading the beaches of Normandy on behalf of a segregated country. His prolific life and bright work have much to teach about nurturing the best we have in us.

Exhibition Painter and Poet: The Wonderful World of Ashley Bryan link
Start date 01 Apr 2017
End date 21 Jan 2018
Presenter High Museum link
Venue 1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA, USA map
Image Ashley Bryan, Stephen, 2015, illustration for Freedom Over Me: Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016), diluted tempera and black marker pen on paper, collection of The Ashley Bryan Center

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