The Norman Rockwell Museum presents Never Abandon Imagination: The Fantastical Art of Tony DiTerlizzi, an exhibition of works by the acclaimed illustrator/writer that will be on view at the Museum from November 11, 2017, through May 28, 2018. Known for his successful book series The Spiderwick Chronicles, DiTerlizzi is widely celebrated for his images of such fantasy creatures as fairies, trolls, sprites, and goblins.
Never Abandon Imagination, which has been organized by Norman Rockwell Museum, will showcase over 150 original paintings and drawings, from the games Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, to his many fantasy and children’s books, in addition to artworks from his childhood and college years. The exhibition will highlight the artist’s influences and artistic process.
Just as his early work on video games is treasured by devoted fans of the genre, DiTerlizzi’s award-winning books—including The Spiderwick Chronicles; Ted; The Spider and the Fly; The Story of Diva and Flea; and The WondLa Trilogy—have inspired a new generation of young readers.
DiTerlizzi has influenced fans and fellow creators alike. “Tony’s work has a distinct flair, a love for monsters if you will,” notes celebrated filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. “His creatures have the charm of Henson or Rackham but they carry with them hints of their own ecosystem. He stands alone as a creator of worlds and a weaver of tales.”
With a style heavily influenced by Norman Rockwell, Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, and others, DiTerlizzi has paid homage to those illustrators, capturing their essence in his magical tales.
“Having a retrospective at the Norman Rockwell Museum is an incredible milestone,” says DiTerlizzi. “I grew up copying his drawings and wishing I could be an illustrator like him. It’s very meaningful to me to be able to have my work hanging alongside these paintings that are now iconic.”
Tony DiTerlizzi began playing Dungeons & Dragons as a child, and the exhibition presents several early drawings, including handmade trading cards, of the young artist’s favorite characters. The artist went on to work as a professional illustrator for D&D during the 1990s, and the exhibition features character designs from 1993’s AD&D Monstrous Manual and 1996’s AD&D Planescape, where DiTerlizzi was the first artist in the company’s history to serve as the sole illustrator for an entire book.
Through the lessons he learned creating characters, designing worlds, and capturing the attention of his audience, the artist transitioned seamlessly into writing and illustrating children’s books. Highlights from this section include original artwork, reference materials, and props from such acclaimed children book series as The Spiderwick Chronicles and The WondLa Trilogy. The exhibition also includes original artwork from Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-This World Moonpie Adventure (2000), his first book for children; Kenny & The Dragon (2008), a retelling of Kenneth Grahame’s 1898 book The Reluctant Dragon; and the Paris-inspired The Story of Diva and Flea (2015), created with fellow author/illustrator Mo Willems. Other works showcase the impact of other illustrators on his art, including the Charles Addams and Edward Gorey-influenced book The Spider and the Fly.
Never Abandon Imagination will also feature a number of digital interactive displays, delving further into DiTerlizzi’s artistic influences and the process behind The Wondla Trilogy. Other highlights include a 23-stop audio tour personally narrated by the artist, a video interview, animations and soundscapes complementing the works on view.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by The Keator Group, LLC and The Pittsfield Cooperative Bank. Additional support provided by Simon & Schuster, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Gotham Group, The Max & Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, and The Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation. Media sponsor: WGBY Public Television.
Exhibition Opening Weekend Events
Saturday, November 11
Exhibition Opening Reception
6 to 8 p.m.
Celebrate the power of imagination with artist Tony DiTerlizzi. Artist and curator commentary will begin at 6:30 p.m., with festive refreshments served. Fantastical dress is encouraged (please omit antennae and facial coverings for safety and security reasons). Pre-signed books will be available in the Museum Store. Free for Museum members, or $20 for not-yet members. Reserve tickets online at nrm.org/rsvp, call 413.931.2265, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, November 12
Bonus! An Afternoon with Tony DiTerlizzi
Learn about the exhibition from the artist himself. A book and print signing will follow. Free for Museum members, or included with admission.
Inside the Spiderwick Chronicles
Saturday, December 30
1 to 4 p.m.
Jump into The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black to learn about Simon, Jared, and Mallory Grace and the magical world of fairies that they discovered on the Spiderwick Estate. A talk, drawing demonstration, and booksigning by the authors are sure to inspire.
Distant Lands: Literary Fiction in the Classroom
Saturday, January 27
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Explore creative approaches to bringing literary fiction into the classroom for elementary and middle-grade students during this inspiring day of lectures, workshops, and readings. A wide range of curriculum-ready resources will be available. $35, $25 members.
Gaming days, fantasy movie screenings, December and February School vacation week art programs, and additional family programming will explore the use of imagination in narrative art. For more details, visit the Museum’s website: www.nrm.org
About Tony DiTerlizzi
New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi has been creating books for nearly two decades. From his fanciful picture-books like The Spider & The Fly (a Caldecott Honor book), to chapter books like Kenny and The Dragon and the WondLa trilogy, DiTerlizzi imbues his stories with rich imagination. With Holly Black, he created the middle-grade series The Spiderwick Chronicles, which has sold millions of copies, been adapted into a successful feature film, and translated into more than 30 languages. Recently, he teamed up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy as a picture book, and collaborated with Mo Willems on the bestselling chapter book The Story of Diva & Flea.
DiTerlizzi is also the author and illustrator of Jimmy Zangwow’s Out-of-this-World MoonPie Adventure, as well as the Zena Sutherland Award winning Ted. His brilliantly cinematic version of Mary Howitt’s classic The Spider and The Fly earned the artist his second Zena Sutherland Award before receiving his Caldecott Honor in 2003. DiTerlizzi’s art has graced the book covers of such well-known fantasy writers as J. R. R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and Jane Yolen. He made his illustration debut contributing to Wizard of the Coast’s iconic games Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.
Believing in the healing power of stories, DiTerlizzi has held author events for children in hospitals all over the world. In 2011 he was honored with the title of Global Ambassador by the Starlight Children’s Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and has been featured in Time magazine, USA Today, CNN, PBS, the BBC and The Today Show.