Esphyr Slobodkina~ artist, author, and illustrator
Esphyr Slobodkina was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 1908. The youngest of five children, Slobidkina’s family left there home in 1919 and moved to Vladisvastok to avoid the Russian Revolution.
Slobodkina immigrated to New York in 1928 using a student visa and began attending the National Academy of Design…Over time, she grew to enjoy a composition class taught by muralist Arthur Sinclair Covey (1877-1960). Through his teachings, she met painter and fellow student Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981), whom she married in 1933…Bolotowsky encouraged Slobodkina to evolve her Impressionist style toward abstraction, which would become her primary genre…Slobodkina and her husband amicably divorced in 1938.
She had a significant career change after meeting children’s author Margaret Wise Brown. The two women became fast friends, and Slobodkina began illustrating Brown’s books, beginning with her Big and Little series and continuing until Brown’s death in 1952. In 1940, Slobodkina published her most famous children’s book, Caps for Sale, which “pioneered the use of contemporary abstract forms in children’s books”…Slobodkina [also] maintained an active painting and sculptural career.
The Slobodkina Foundation, an organization designed to promote free programs, scholarships, readings and performances of Slobodkina’s children’s books was created in 2000…Slobodkina died in 2002 in Glen Head, New York at the age of 93.
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