Dave the Potter -- Artist, Poet, Slave

* This post is part of the children's Nonfiction Monday
hosted today by The Miss Rumphius Effect

Little Brown and Company (pub. 9.7.2010)
40 pages  Grades K-4

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top 
               and Illustrator:  BRYAN COLLIER

C haracter: Dave, a South Carolina artist,
                     potter and poet who inscribed
                     his poems on the pots he created
                     even though it was illegal for slaves
                     to read or write

O verview from the jacket flap:                                           
"To us                                                                              
it is just dirt,
the ground we walk on...
But to Dave
it was clay,
the plain and basic stuff
upon which he formed a life
as a slave nearly 200 years ago.
      Dave was an extraordinary artist, poet, and potter who lived in South Carolina in the 1800s.  He combined his superb artistry with deeply observant poetry, carved on his pots, transcending the limitations he faced as a slave.  In this inspiring and lyrical portrayal... Dave's remarkable story [is] one rich in history, hope, and long-lasting beauty."

T antalizing taste:
"Each one began
out of clouds of dust,
clotted clumps of clay
ground in the pug mill and carried,
wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow,
to Dave's spinning potter's wheel."

and something more:  Bravo!  Just two weeks ago, it was announced that the children's picture book biography, DAVE THE POTTER, was named a Caldecott Honor Book, and Bryan Collier will be presented with the Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. "Bryan Collier has crafted a stunning visual tribute to the life of an unsung American artist," said Jonda C. McNair, award jury chair.
      Bryan Collier's incredible watercolor and collage illustrations, with powerful words and images of people woven into the backgrounds, remind me of the art of Romare Bearden. After being captivated by his work shown at an exhibit at SFMOMA curated by Ruth Fine of The National Gallery, I wrote a picture book about him (MY HANDS SING THE BLUES illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, Marshall Cavendish Childrens, Fall 2011).  When I toured school groups at this exhibit, children were mesmerized by the amazing collages and always found a sense of connection to the stories and people in Romare Bearden's art.  
     Bryan Collier's biography says that "he directs mural programs throughout the city for any child who wants to paint."  What a wonderful gift he is sharing! After being Program Director for 12 years, he still volunteers with the Harlem Horizon Studio and Harlem Hospital Center with a program that provides working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. 
     As he explains, "It gives the community, the schools, the kids, and the parents the opportunity to come together for a very positive uplifting cause - the building and re-building of self-esteem, teaching the appreciation of art, and keeping the kids connected and involved and away from negative influences."
     Bryan's Collier's dedication in DAVE THE POTTER says "I dedicate this book to all artists, and everyone who loves picture books.  Because this story is really about the power of the human spirit, artistry, and truth, and that cannot be silenced by bondage of any kind."
     The power of words and art is embodied in Dave's poetry and the art of his pottery, and the poetry and illustrations of DAVE THE POTTER.


TheNote said...

This is positively dreamy AND looks Professional. Color me impressed.
I'm going to have to keep my eye out for you in the Children's Lit. World.

Impressive stuff.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks so much Georgy! I hopped over to your website -- The Thursday Story Time looks terrific. I want to check out your blog, too!