Leaving China, A Brief Book Review

Years and years ago I took an illustration class with James McMullan at the School of Visual Arts in NYC.  I was a bit intimidated since I love his work, but it was a really good class: Illustration as Visual essay.  (the class gradually morphed into the current MFA program.) One of the assignments was to illustrate the life of someone who wore a uniform for work.  It forced me way out of my comfort zone and I found myself following my subject through the halls of NY Hospital, through the neo-natal ICU, and on to fancy dinner parties —all in the guise of a journalist/illustrator.  In the end, thankfully, he told me he thought I would be a good illustrator.

Now I’m teaching at SVA and last night one of my current students gave me a signed copy of James McMullan’s new book, “Leaving China” – a memoir of his childhood during WWII when his family was living in China. It is filled with beautiful illustrations that must have been simmering in his soul for nearly 80 years until he was finally ready and able to put them down on paper.  There are also lots of pictures of people in uniforms. The story of his childhood —a harrowing  adventure for a timid boy—was the reason, I’m sure, that he became the artist he is.

Thanks for the book, Catherine!


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