Earlier this month, Lisa Von Drasek read Jacqueline Davies’ blog post, Excuse Me Sir: Did You Forget Something? — and she immediately saw red. Davies’ post documents her experience at a two-hour workshop on children’s book illustration where the lecturer pretty much ignored women artists and artists of color.
“Over the course of the two-hour lecture, 26 names were referenced in total; 25 of them were men,” wrote Davies. “The presenter gave much to his audience during his two-hour lecture. He owed us more. He owed us the care and concern to review his lecture through the lens of gender equity so that he could teach without doing harm.”
Davies’ post inspired Von Drasek, Curator of the University of Minnesota’s Children’s Literature Research Collection, to start writing about women picture book artists on her own blog, The Blue Ox Review. She won’t stop until she’s written about 100 women — all part of an effort to bring awareness to gender equity.
“How can you talk about picture book art and not show the groundbreaking work of Emily Gravett, the work of Lois Ehlert, Yuyi Morales, Melissa Sweet? Ekua Holmes? And Shadra Strickland?” wrote Von Drasek, in her first post after reading the Davies article.
Von Drasek compiled statistics from her own digital exhibit on Children’s Book Art, which includes a much more balanced representation of artists:
- Artists of color: 24 percent
- White artists: 76 percent
- Women artists: 42 percent
- Male artists 58 percent
“These only include artists that we hold in the Kerlan Collection,” she wrote, noting that as the collection continues to grow it will become even more diverse.
As of this writing, Von Drasek has written about 15 women artists on her way to 100. Check them out on her blog, beginning with Grace Lin, an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of picture books, early readers, and middle-grade novels.