The Need to Create
Central Library, 2nd floor Balcony Cases
Collier is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award, a Caldecott Medal and two Coretta Scott King Awards. Collier’s art highlights children in their neighborhoods in contemporary settings. For this exhibition, Collier will show 25 pieces along with some of the books that show the final printed images with the text. The exhibition will focus on original collages he has done for children’s books and include works including, “Sang Like Love, Cried Like Blues” from Visiting Langston written by Willie Perdomo and “Shake You Wide Awake” from, These Hands written by Hope Lynne Price.
Collier has a unique technique of combining watercolor, collage and scratchboard in vibrant rich hues. He blends realism with abstract qualities to create evocative works to which viewers experience strong emotional responses. Collier comments that, “Collage is about bringing different elements together. Once you form a sensibility about connection, you deepen your understanding of yourself and others.”
A native of Pocomoke City, Maryland, Collier attributes his pursuit of art to the encouragement he received from both his family and his school teachers while growing up. Collier’s first recognition came in 1985 when he won a national competition and his art was displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Later that year he received a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City, and four years later he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with honors.
While at college, Collier volunteered at Harlem Hospital’s Horizon Art Studio in a program that provided working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. He believes the Studio offered an opportunity for the community, the schools, the kids, and the parents to come together for a very positive and uplifting cause – that of “building and re-building self-esteem.” Collier became the Horizon Art Studio’s Program Director and held the position for 12 years.
Collier now focuses his attention on book illustrating and writing. He still volunteers at the Harlem Hospital Center and seeks to be a positive role model for children through actively working in schools. Collier has intimated that his art provides a deeper understanding of the world about him. He says, “…it’s not about formal training …It’s about the need to create; to answer inner, spiritual questions about yourself.”