Living Memories: Roger Essley

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Editor’s note: The article below originally appeared in the March-April 1996 issue of MAGazine, the forerunner of ARTiculate. Roger Essley’s drawings were on view in conjunction with the exhibition Many Faces, Many Places: Contemporary Children’s Book Illustration. Essley is among the artists featured in the 2013 exhibition Creative Workshop Living Memory: Part 1.

Reunion: Illustrations by Roger Essley

On view April 2–June 23, 1996

Original drawing for children's book by Roger EssleyRoger Essley has come a long way since his first art classes at MAG’s Creative Workshop. Today, his paintings and drawings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Joslyn Museum, as well as the Memorial Art Gallery, and his books for children have developed a wide following. Artwork from two of these books, Reunion and Wildflower Tea, will be on view in the Children’s Corridor beginning in April.

Reunion, which Essley wrote as well as illustrated, is based on his childhood memories of summers at Conesus Lake. The book is the story of a young boy transported back to his great-grandfather’s day through an an old family photograph.

It’s not surprising that family history and photography play an important part in Essley’s work. His father, Harry, worked for Eastman Kodak and shot hundreds of family pictures during Roger’s early years. And Reunion is dedicated to his grandparents, Rochesterians Georgiana and Andrew Gilman, “who saved the pictures and told the stories.”

PIctured: Original drawing for Reunion.