Madison Children’s Museum opens Drawing Fast and Slow: The Compbook Art of Lynda Barry on October 2, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission to the entire museum is free on that evening as part of Gallery Night. Barry will attend the opening, and signed copies of three of her books will be available for purchase.
Over a career that includes authoring 17 books over 35 years, this is only the fourth exhibition of Lynda Barry’s work, and the first outside of New York.
At the core of the exhibit are 20 composition books featuring Barry’s sketches and writing. These “compbooks” -- part-diary, part-sketchbook -- have never been shared publicly, so this provides a rare glimpse at the artist’s life and how events, musings, and memory become art. The compbooks, in cases, are each open to a spread of pages, which Barry will turn from time to time, so each visit to the exhibit will be different. The exhibit is the result of a partnership between Barry and museum exhibits staff, who have created an interactive gallery of art and activities drawing from the artist’s work and methods for unlocking the creative process.
A giant compbook anchors the exhibit and allows visitors to pose for photos through holes that bring them right into the artwork. A “magnetic poetry” style area asks visitors to choose words and images and arrange them to create a story. People are urged to share something of themselves at the Magic Cephalapod Writing Station. Spinning the Chance Wheel determines the subject of a quick drawing exercise. These exercises will have visitors contributing many sketches and brief stories, which Barry’s graduate students will collect on Saturdays, adding words to the pictures and pictures to the words in new, collaborative compbooks, which will then be displayed.
Barry will also visit the museum on a weekly basis, drawing and writing with children.
The Sidewalk Surprise gallery window, viewable from Hamilton St., will display a compbook-page quilt, featuring copies of pages selected by Barry.
A “Hole in the Wall” scene will usher in the first iteration of a new MCM exhibit offering as it brings Barry’s characters to life in three dimensions. Hole in the Wall exhibits will be located throughout the museum, with only a small spyglass to announce the presence of a scene built into a wall or exhibit.