Illustrating Alaska

Traveling Exhibit Prospectus

Illustrating Alaska: Artists Making Children’s Books explores the colorful and intriguing process of illustrating children’s books. The exhibit highlights the process of four different Alaskan illustrators: Jim Fowler, Evon Zerbetz, Michaela Goade, and Mitchell Watley.

Mitch, Jim, Evon and Michaela each have very unique perspectives on creating illustrations for a book. Mitch creates his sketches in pencil. Then he brings them into the computer and digitally illustrates them. Jim also begins with sketches, but he paints his illustrations in acrylic after storyboarding the images. Evon does her work in linoleum, after carving the image, she inks and prints her work by hand. Michaela sketches, paints in watercolor, and then adds digital finishing touches. Each piece is comprised of sketches, drafts and a final work that shows that iterative process.

Walking into the exhibit, visitors will notice that the artwork is hung a little lower than usual. This is an exhibit that celebrates artwork for children, and although taller adults will still be able to easily see the pieces, we want the kids to know that this is an exhibit for them. Each of the four artists have three pieces exhibited.

The artwork is displayed on a paint-blob shaped plywood panel, covered by acrylic. This shows the edges of the work, the roughness of the drafts, and emphasizes the “process” theme to the exhibit. 

A 27-minute video is included in the exhibit package, which includes 

  • the illustrators answering questions posed by kids
  • an animated telling of Shanyaak’utlaax Salmon Boy in Tlingit with English subtitles from Sealaska Heritage, featuring Michaela’s work
  • a process video of Mitch digitally coloring mountain goats
  • Evon and Jim reading their stories 
  • The video can be projected on the wall or displayed on a monitor on a loop.

In addition, an activity that encourages visitors to try their hand at illustration will be available to hosting institutions. Visitors will encounter what different artist studios feel like and can sit at an artist’s desk and create thumbnail sketches. 

In a reading area, visitors will find stacks of books. We recommended seating for two or more, encouraging children and adults to look through the books or read to each other. In addition to the books illustrated by the four artists, we will provide other Alaskan children’s books. 

Exhibition Specifications

Number of Works: 

  • (18) panels with 1–5 iterations each
  • (4) studio sketches on canvas, approx 5’ x 5’ 
  • (20) graphic panels on 3mm ACM panels
  • (1) 27-minute video
  • books illustrated by the four artists

Shipping: ExAK makes all arrangements; exhibitors pay outgoing shipping costs
Approximate size: 120-150 linear feet
Security: Moderate security
Participation Fee: Contact us
Insurance: Contact us
Booking Period: 12 weeks
Tour: beginning Summer 2021
Organized by: ExhibitAK and Alaska State Museum
Contact: info@exhibitak.com

Companion Pieces 

Activity: kids are asked to illustrate their own piece of text. They are taken through the steps to brainstorm, create many thumbnail sketches, choose one and finalize. They can put it in a book alongside illustrations from other exhibit visitors. PDFs provided, colored pencils not included. Instructions available for K–3, 4th grade and up.
Curriculum: developed with the Juneau School District, teachers will find four lesson plans to use with their class, whether they visit the exhibit in person or not.

  • Pre-Lesson
  • Virtual Field Trip
  • Post Field Trip
  • Post field trip extension activity 

Programming

  • Tiny Book Project for Kids and Families, taught by Evon Zerbetz via Zoom or in person.

  • Curator talk

Pop-Up Exhibition: a 10-panel exhibit is available to libraries, schools, and other public spaces that don’t have the ability to display artwork. Please contact us for more information. 

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