Illustrator returns to campus

Children’s book illustrator Michele Wood will give a presentation at Butler University this week to help celebrate Founder’s Day.

Founder’s Day marks the birthday of Ovid Butler, an Indianapolis native who was heavily involved with the university’s creation.

On Thursday, Wood will be speaking about her latest work—a collaboration with Cynthia Grady—titled “I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery.”

Written in poetry, the book is about the experiences of African American slaves. The stories are brought to life through Wood’s elaborate quilt artwork.

“The poetry is a lot like a quilt,” Wood said. “There is depth, meaning and intricate parts.”

If Wood’s name sounds familiar, it may be because she has been on campus before.

A resident of the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood, Wood gave a presentation on her illustrations in the book “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” at Irwin Library last semester.

Wood’s artwork has impressed many viewers. Her illustrations for a similar book, “I See the Rhythm,” earned her the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Library Association.

“The illustrations are very rich and expressive, and that is what is so striking about them,” said Julie Miller, Butler’s dean of libraries. “They seem so textured that you cannot believe it’s a flat page.”

The creation of Wood’s books is very unique as well.

Many are written in an unconventional, backward format. Instead of writers sending her manuscripts to inspire her art, she sends the authors her artwork to inspire their text.

While Wood’s presentation is open to all students and the Indianapolis community, Miller said students majoring in creative writing, art or education will find the program especially interesting.

“To be involved in a dialogue with someone successful is inspiring and educational,” said sophomore Tommy O’Rourke, a creative writing major.

Both students and faculty see the opportunity to hear Wood speak as beneficial.

“It’s great for students to have access to someone who is actually making her living as an artist,” Miller said.

Wood said she desires for her work to connect past and present generations.

“I want to educate children about how much African Americans have contributed to society and to the United States,” Wood said.

Across campus, Butler faculty members are excited for the event’s inclusion in the Founder’s Day celebration.

“It gives us greater understanding of the diversity of American history,” Miller said. “That’s what makes it a great program to have on Founder’s Day.”

Wood’s presentation will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. in Irwin Library.


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