Worlds of Words: Center of Global Literacies and Literature typically hosts two major exhibitions in our studio space each year and several additional smaller exhibits in our special collections room. The displays are a combination of WOW’s holdings and art/materials on loan. Each includes hands-on invitations designed to help patrons of all ages engage more deeply in story. Take some time to explore some of our past shows, share your thoughts, and let us know what you’d like to see.
Wilson Ong’s last name was Wong until the fourth grade when his father revealed he used a false name to immigrate to the U.S. as a “paper son.” His father’s story isn’t that different from Lee’s story in the picturebook illustrated by Wilson, Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America. Each of Wilson’s original oil illustrations for this book were purchased by Mary J. Wong, also the child of a paper son, and donated to the Worlds of Words Center where they are on exhibit Fall 2022.
As COVID-19 began its spread around the world, the International Youth Library (IYL) in Munich, Germany, invited children to portray themselves during this unusual time. The response was overwhelming. Over 800 self-portraits from 42 countries and every continent arrived at the IYL. Children aged 3 to 18 depict themselves grey and frightened or colorful and lively, sometimes with a face mask and sometimes without–mostly with big, alert eyes. A curated portion of these self-portraits make up the exhibit Children Draw Themselves: Self-Portraits from All Over the World In Times of Covid, which was on display Spring 2022.
The International Youth Library in Munich, Germany created this exhibit around the idea that maps represent how people imagine the world to be, how we perceive it and order it and how we orient ourselves in it. Maps have long played an important role in literature for young people. “Maps help readers visualize and track the plot of the story world in a book. Maps also support readers in going beyond the borders of the page in that story world to inspire new stories and worlds,” says Kathy Short, director of WOW. This exhibit was on display Fall 2021.
“Many people connect response and revision to the writing process. This exhibit provides a demonstration of how response and revision occur within the illustration process and of the ways in which illustrators can work together in a generative partnership. The visual conversation in this exhibition is engaging and insightful,” says Kathy Short, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies and Director of WOW. This exhibit was on display 2020-2021.
WOW shared “Visual Narratives: Connecting Across Languages and Cultures, an exhibit of global picturebooks that tell stories primarily through visual images. The exhibit is inspired by the “Silent Books, from the World to Lampedusa and Back,” a traveling exhibit of global books from the International Board on Books for Young People. This exhibit was on display Fall 2019.
Creating Hope through Resilience: The Picturebook Art of Ronald Himler
The art of award-winning picturebook illustrator Ronald Himler captures how the resilience of children creates hope for the future. Worlds of Words’ exhibit, “Creating Hope through Resilience: The Picturebook Art of Ronald Himler” displays original illustrations from his books that lay bare the struggles children face when they grow up near conflict zones. Himler’s artistry features striking watercolors depicting children in global contexts coping with challenging experiences in their lives. This exhibit was on display Spring 2019.
Create. Play. Learn.
“This exhibit is a lighthearted exploration into the meaning Create. Play. Learn. has within children’s literature,” says Kathy Short, Professor of Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies and Director of WOW. “It encapsulates the experience of childhood, how children are always creating, playing and learning to bring meaning and significance into their lives.” This exhibit was on display Fall 2018.
Stitching Stories: Hmong Customs and Symbols as Told through Storycloths
This exhibit featured traditional Hmong storycloths from WOW’s Mary J. Wong collection along with children’s books and hands-on activities for all ages. “Stitching Stories: Hmong Customs and Symbols as Told through Storycloths” highlighted the oral and textile storytelling traditions of the Hmong people. Examples of storytelling through textiles from Vietnam, Panama, Peru and Turkey were also on display Spring 2018 and Summer 2022.
The news is bleak. Even in homes where comfort and security are the rule, the media confronts children and adults with images of war, animosity and displacement. Some are directly affected while others have many questions, and all seek answers. The traveling exhibit, Hello, Dear Enemy!, does not provide answers, but it does provide a path to conversation. Worlds of Words was the first stop for this powerful collection from the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. This exhibit was on display Fall 2017.
This exhibit featured the publishing journey of Coyote School News by Joan Sandin, an award-winning author, illustrator and translator. Sandin’s original artwork for Coyote School News hangs in the WOW Studio, and the Mary J. Wong Collection showcases her journey of publishing the book. Newspaper covers from two publications that feature the voices of young reporters, the Little Cowpuncher and Bear Essential News, also hang in the exhibit in the WOW Hall Gallery. This exhibit was on display Spring 2017.
With the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, The University of Arizona community reflected upon and honors the tragic loss of sailors and marines killed aboard the USS Arizona. In keeping with this remembrance, Worlds of Words created a must-see WWII exhibit, Code Making and Perspective Taking, that focused on the Arizona experience with the war. This exhibit included art from students at Van Buskirk Elementary and Tucson High Magnet School inspired by the books and art on display. This exhibit was on display Fall 2016.