Museum opens exhibition of illustration from award-winning children's book

Illustrator Floyd Cooper uses an eraser to help ensure that stories and culture and people aren't erased.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award-winning illustrator uses a distinctive technique, removing paint from oil washes, to create his evocative and emotive characterizations. (Illustrations, story boards and sketches from his work for “Back of the Bus,” based on Rosa Parks' 1955 bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, will be on exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art beginning Saturday, Dec. 8.) Cooper, reached at his New York City home studio while on deadline for his next book, said he bears a responsibility as a black artist to lift up stories of cultural significance.

“Everyone is supposed to know these stories, but I think we take it for granted. We have to keep repeating them. They need to be told again and again. And I'm resolved to the fact that we have to do this,” Cooper said.

Cooper said he sees himself as a bridge-builder.

“I like to think of people, especially children, opening up a book that's not about yourself, that shares some part … of our common humanity,” Cooper said.