Editor's note: The Tacoma Art Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Tacoma Art Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


The Art of Eric Carle

October 7, 2006 - January 21, 2007

Fireflies, rubber ducks, and other creatures take over Tacoma Art Museum this fall in the exhibition The Art of Eric Carle. More than fifty original works on paper by the famous children's picture-book writer and artist -- most well-known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar -- is on view from October 7, 2006 through January 21, 2007.  

"Eric Carle has captivated readers with picture books filled with vibrantly colored collage illustrations and innovative designs for almost four decades," said Paula McArdle, curator of education for Tacoma Art Museum. "His signature collage illustrations use bold colors, rich textures, and playful forms that are readily recognizable to viewers both young and old." 

Carle first illustrated Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?  for author Bill Martin Jr. in 1967. Since then, he has created more than seventy children's picture books of his own that have been translated into over thirty languages. He has sold more than 71 million copies of his books. This exhibition features the original works on paper from such loved classic picture books as The Very Quiet Cricket; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?; A House for Hermit Crab; Where Are You Going? To See My Friend!; Mister Seahorse; From Head to Toe; and 10 Little Rubber Ducks.

Trained as a graphic artist, Carle originally used commercially available tissue papers in his collage illustrations, but he soon felt the colors were limited and not vibrant enough, and the textures flat. He began painting his own tissue papers with acrylic paints and texturing them with sponges, his fingers, and the handle end of the paint brush. He cuts the shapes from the tissue and assembles them to make up the forms and characters of his collages.

In addition to creating the collage illustrations, Carle is personally involved in every detail of his books -- from layout to typography and format -- in an effort to create "toys to read" and "books to play with." Although he did not invent the "book-as-toy," he has greatly influenced and raised the artistic and literary level of this genre with many new and innovative variations. The shortened pages, holes, overlays, flaps, lights, and sounds are playful elements that extend the text and give young readers something to hold and touch as they learn to love reading and books.

"We partnered with the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts to bring this enchanting exhibition to our community as we share the same goal, of opening the visual world to young and old," said Director Stephanie A. Stebich. "We especially want to encourage children to build their creativity and confidence to appreciate and enjoy art of every kind."   



"Parents appreciate Carle's stories as much as their children do," said McArdle. "This exhibition opens the door for parents to read aloud to their kids. Studies show that reading to children encourages their intellectual growth and development." 

The installation at Tacoma Art Museum offers visitors the opportunity to see original illustrations, enjoy a reading area with custom-made, child-sized furniture, and view a video presentation that details the artist's creative process. The exhibition also provides parents, teachers, and librarians with the potential to transform learning through picture book art as well as to make connections between visual and text-based literacy.

According to McArdle, research indicates that children who are able to decode the meaning behind a piece of art are better able to comprehend and retain information about something they've read. "This exhibition gives us a way to really highlight our commitment to promoting literacy through art," she continued. "It gives helps us connect not only with young people who are new to the stories, but also with the young-at-heart who remember having the books read to them years ago."

In an effort to encourage literacy throughout the region, Tacoma Art Museum has partnered with Tacoma Public Library and the Tacoma School of the Arts for "An Eric Carle Celebration."  Actors from the Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA) will bring Eric Carle's stories to life in this imaginative traveling theater program combining puppets, masks, storytelling, improvisation, and audience participation. For additional information, contact Tacoma Public Library at 253.591.5666 or visit www.tacomapubliclibrary.org.               



Meet Eric Carle / Members' Opening

Eric Carle will speak about his art, ideas, and favorite stories at the Rialto Theater in Tacoma on Saturday, October 22, at 2 pm. Nick Clarke, Director of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., will join him for a lively discussion. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Cost for Tacoma Art Museum members is $10; non-members, $20; children under 10 years, $5. Call 253-2727-4258 x3030 or email programs@TacomaArtMuseum.org for reservations. After the talk, Carle will sign books at Tacoma Art Museum as part of the exhibition's Member's Opening, which is open to the public and free to those who present their ticket stub from the Rialto.  


29,000 Rubber Ducks Overboard!

Eric Carle's most recent picture book has particular relevance to Tacoma. The story 10 Little Rubber Ducks was inspired by an actual incident involving a ship bound for the Port of Tacoma from Hong Kong. The ship was carrying 29,000 plastic bathtub toys, which washed overboard in a storm. Most of the rubber ducks came ashore along the Alaskan Coast, but one made it as far as Washington. Three of the ducks that migrated to Sitka, Alaska, will be featured in the exhibition. Seattle oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer has been tracking the migration of the toys as he maps ocean currents. He will speak at Tacoma Art Museum Saturday, December 2, at 2 pm. (Read CBS News' coverage of the incident: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/31/eveningnews/main566138.shtml).    

The Art of Eric Carleis a nationally touring exhibition that was previously on view at Orlando Museum of Art. Tacoma Art Museum is the culminating venue and the show's only stop on the west coast. The exhibition is organized by The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Massachusetts, and is drawn from the collection of Eric and Barbara Carle. 

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Tacoma Art Museum in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art, calendars, and much more.

© Copyright 2006 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.