Wiesner (American, b. 1956). Fish Girl, 2016. Watercolor and ink line on paper, 9 x 13½ inches. Copyright ©2010 by David Wiesner.

For Immediate Release

Work of Acclaimed Author and Illustrator David Wiesner Arrives at GRAM this Fall

Exhibition explores richly imaginative paintings by three-time Caldecott winner

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, October 2, 2019 — The Grand Rapids Art Museum will present a colorful survey of award-winning author and illustrator, David Wiesner, opening at the Museum on October 12. The Art of Wordless Storytelling will be on view at GRAM through January 12, 2020 and features over 70 original watercolors from Wiesner’s most beloved books, including Caldecott Medal winners Tuesday (1991),  The Three Pigs (2001), and Flotsam (2006).

His many books have delighted readers of all ages for three decades with wildly imaginative tales that capture the joy of pictures and stories. Wiesner’s body of work explores the complexity of human imagination through richly layered imagery, clever composition, and humor. 

With GRAM’s mission focused on art, creativity, and design, we’re thrilled to present The Art of Wordless Storytelling at the Grand Rapids Art Museum,” commented GRAM Director and CEO Dana Friis-Hansen. Wiesner draws from such diverse pictorial narrative inspirations including Surrealist painting; cinema from silent film to 2001 and beyond; and comic books, graphic novels, and Japanese animé.” 

Examples of Wiesner’s earliest artistic successes are on view in The Art of Wordless Storytelling, as well as sketches and notebooks revealing his time-consuming creative process, which culminates in the dreamlike watercolor paintings that anchor the exhibition. 

Wiesner’s picture books often take years to complete and develop from a process of sketching, drawing, creating 3D models, and finally, painting the richly layered watercolors that will be on view,” said GRAM Assistant Curator Jennifer Wcisel. In working on this exhibition, I have been continually amazed by the power of Wiesner’s imagination and connections to childhood. He doesn’t simply write a story and then conceive images for it, rather his stories grow from a memory or visual idea and are written’ entirely with pictures.” 

When asked about his wordless narratives, Wiesner shared, By removing the text, I am removing the author’s voice. This lets each reader tell the story in their own voice. It puts readers in the position of collaborating in the storytelling process, asking them to use their imagination along with mine.” He hopes viewers will actively engage with his work, making connections and creating their own meaning, an engagement that is particularly important for young children, who develop visual literacy well before they are able to read. 

On view concurrently with The Art of Wordless Storytelling on the Museum’s Level 2 is a parallel exhibition, Worth A Thousand Words: Storytelling with GRAM’s Collection. Comprised of paintings, drawings, and sculpture drawn from the Collection, in this interactive exhibition, viewers are invited to invent and share their own stories in response to the works on view, all specifically selected for their storytelling potential.

Activities within the galleries for children, families, and adults have been created to inspire visual literacy and storytelling skills and create fun experiences for visitors of all ages. In addition to the exhibition’s interactive spaces, guests are invited to participate in a full calendar of family-friendly events, including the Member Exhibition Opening, Coffee with the Artist, Community Conversations: Storytelling Beyond Words, Family Day, a Parent and Child Workshop, and more. 

Lead support for this exhibition is generously provided by Herman Miller Cares, The Meijer Foundation, and Wege Foundation. 

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum 
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the art museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th-century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft. 
For museum hours and admission fees, visit artmuseumgr.org