African American culture on display at Elmhurst library

Exhibit focuses on illustrated children’s literature

Elmhurst Public Library

The Elmhurst Public Library is showcasing African American cultural identity through its latest exhibit “Telling a People’s Story: African-American Illustrated Children’s Literature.”

The exhibit, which will be on display until Jan. 24, offers a lens into the cultural, historical and social makeup of African American cultural identity.

“The library is always looking for ways to share information and to connect with the community, and this exhibit focusing on books seemed like a great fit,” said Rita Perona, head of marketing at the Elmhurst Public Library.

Perona said the exhibit includes 12 standing panels that highlight the history of African American storytelling through different time periods, while also shedding light on long-neglected African American authors and illustrators in children’s literature.

While aspects of social justice are found throughout the exhibit, the contextual framework goes beyond providing a look into the struggle and accomplishments of the African Americans.

Originally, the collection of art was supposed to be displayed last summer, but COVID-19 delayed it to begin in November, Perona said.

“The exhibit focuses a lot on the illustrations and they’re beautiful,” Perona said.

The traveling exhibit is located on the second floor at the Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect Ave., and is organized by the Miami University Art Museum and is open to the public for 30-minute sessions. The exhibit is also available virtually on the Elmhurst Public Library YouTube channel.

In addition to the exhibit, a virtual “Meet the Illustrator” event will also be held March 8 including Don Tate, whose work is included in the exhibit. Tate will discuss his life and work of more than 80 children’s books, while also answering questions from the audience. Registration for the event is required.

“We thought it would be great to include someone who was represented in the exhibit and actually have them speak to their work and stuff,” Perona said.