The Northern Illinois University Art Museum is pleased to present three in-person lectures related to their Children’s Illustrated Literature Exhibition Suite by award-winning illustrator of over 60 books, James E. Ransome. Ransome will be joined by his wife, author Lesa Cline-Ransome, with whom he often collaborates. His artwork is on display in “Everyday People: The Art of James E. Ransome,” organized and traveled by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in Abilene, Texas, and on display at the museum Aug. 23 through Oct. 15, 2022.

James Ransome has been named by the Children’s Book Council as one of 75 authors and illustrators everyone should know. He was born in North Carolina and raised by his grandmother. As a young child he was drawn to illustrations and checked out books from the library to teach himself how to draw. He went on to earn his degree in fine arts from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Here he met and took classes from the African American illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. Mr. Pinkney became a mentor and friend to Ransome after graduating from school. Ransome believes that each book he illustrates has a special voice, so he approaches each book in a unique way through his choice of palette, design or perspective.

He enjoys experimenting and exploring ways to make each book unique. Ransome now lives in Rhinebeck, New York with his wife Lesa Cline Ransome, a writer of children’s books, their four children and their St. Bernard. He and Lesa have collaborated to create several books together. Their most recent books are “Game Changers” published in 2018 (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), about the life of Serena and Venus Williams and “Before She Was Harriet” published in 2017 (Holiday House), a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, about the life of Harriet Tubman. Ransome has received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrations for his book, “The Creation” (Holiday House) that just had its 25th Anniversary Edition published in 2018.

Ransome has also received several Coretta Scott Honors for many of his other books as well as The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance award, the NAACP Image Award for Illustration and is an ALA Notable Book recipient. Some of his books have been featured on the PBS show Reading Rainbow.

His body of work received the Rip Van Winkle Award from the School Library Media Specialists of Southeast New York in 2001. Ransome has completed several commissioned murals for the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Hemphill Branch Library in Greensboro, North Carolina. His traveling exhibit, “Visual Stories” has been touring the United States since 2003. His work is part of both private and public children’s book art collections.

Lesa Cline-Ransome is the award-winning author of many critically acclaimed books for young readers, including “Not Playing by the Rules: 21 Female Athletes Who Changed Sports,” “Young Pele: Soccer’s First Star,” “Before She was Harriet,” “Overground Railroad” and “Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams.” Her numerous honors include the Jane Addams Honor Award, the Christopher Award, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book of Year and three NAACP Image Award nominations.

Her debut middle-grade novel “Finding Langston” received the Coretta Scott King Author Honor and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. She is currently a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators board member and host of KidLitTV’s “Past Present: Giving Past Stories New Life.”

Calendar of Events

Wednesday, Oct. 12 – Public Joint Talk
A Book, A Page, A World: The Artistic Journey of Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome
Collaborators in life and work, Lesa and James share their early beginnings as author and illustrator, the creative process from idea to revision, and how they navigate the business and art of writing and illustrating books for children.
7 to 8 p.m., Music Building, Recital Hall Thursday,

Oct. 13 – Public Talk
A Harmony of Pictures and Words
With his 30-year career as a children’s book illustrator, James Ransome will examine how pictures are worth a thousand words. The picture book format is a perfect union for words and pictures. Illustrations are not just pretty pictures; they are an essential part of storytelling. His presentation will take you on a journey that shares how illustrations communicate with words to make a wonderful marriage.
6 to 7 p.m., Altgeld Hall 125

Saturday, Oct. 15 – Public Talk
Closing Reception, 1 to 3 p.m.
Informal artist talk by James E. Ransome
2 p.m., NIU Art Museum Rotunda Gallery

COVID-19 Visitor Information

For more information about the university’s health protocols and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, visit About the NIU Art Museum Serving Campus and Community by Balancing Traditional and Contemporary Art to Explore the Connections Made through Visual Culture. Part of the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ vibrant and active arts community on campus, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum is a resource for the NIU campus, local community and beyond. The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, at the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drive on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. Parking is available in the visitor pay lot located at 200 Carroll Avenue. Limited metered and accessible parking spaces are available in front of Lowden Hall with accessible aisles and route to Altgeld.

Campus parking is free on weekends and after 5 p.m. weeknights in nearby lots 3 and 14. To request disability-related accommodations for museum programs, please contact the museum at least one week in advance. Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution. The Children’s Illustrated Literature Suite was made possible by the Barbara Cole Peters Fund for the NIU Art Museum.

The exhibitions and programs of the NIU Art Museum are sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency, the Friends of the NIU Art Museum, the NIU Arts and Culture Fee; and the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Season Presenting Sponsor Shaw Media. Additional funding for the programs related to our fall 2022 shows came from the Barbara Cole Peters Fund for the NIU Art Museum; Friends of the University Libraries; Friends of the DeKalb and Sycamore Public Libraries; the Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic; NIU Center for Black Studies; NIU Gender and Sexuality Resource Center; NIU College of Education; NIU Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; the illustration department of the NIU School of Art and Design; and the College of Visual and Performing Arts DEI Initiatives.

Gallery Hours

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday
Noon to 6 p.m. Thursday
Noon to 6 p.m. Friday
Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday; and by appointment for group tours

Exhibitions are free and open to the public.