Earthsea Imagined by Charles Vess will be featured in the Massillon Museum’s main gallery. The exhibition opening will be concurrent with the NEA Big Read Kickoff on April 7, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
A selection of Vess’s original illustrations for the upcoming 50th anniversary edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea compilation will be displayed. A Wizard of Earthsea is the Massillon Museum’s selection for its 11th-annual NEA Big Read project.
The artist’s portfolio includes the Stardust illustrated novel with Neil Gaiman and cover art for Marvel, DC, Tor, and Subterranean Press. He has illustrated many books and graphic novels for which he has won four World Fantasy, three Chesley, one Mythopoeic, and two Will Eisner awards.
Vess’s illustrations have been featured in gallery and museum exhibitions across the nation, including two exhibitions in New York City: Modern Fairy Tales (with Michael Kaluta) at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators. His work has also been shown in Paris, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the UK.
Vess, who has been drawing since he was a child, lives on a small farm in southwestern Virginia, where he works from his studio, Green Man Press.
Vess will present the NEA Big Read keynote on Thursday, April 26, 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Lincoln Theatre. That event will be also be free and open to everyone. Reservations are not necessary. The program will be a lecture about the inspiration for the artist’s drawings and an illustration demonstration.
The Museum presents the NEA Big Read project each year in conjunction with Massillon Public Library. The Museum is distributing 1500 free copies of A Wizard of Earthsea throughout the community and the Library is offering an unlimited number of free digital copies of the book for loan.
In addition to the NEA grant, funding for the Massillon effort is provided by Massillon/North Canton Elks #2029, Rotary Club of Massillon, and ArtsinStark. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its primary local funding.
Local organizations and individuals collaborating with the Massillon Museum include: the Massillon Public Library, Stark Parks, Massillon/North Canton Elks Lodge #2029, Kent State University at Stark, Walsh University Museum Studies Club, Washington High School Drama Department, Visit Canton, and many community volunteers.
The NEA Big Read, the largest federal literature program since the WPA, is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It presents The NEA Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the program is managed by Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.