Duncan Tonatiuh, a children’s book author and artist, will visit Indiana University East as part of Hispanic Heritage Month and the “One Book, Many Voices” project on Tuesday, October 15, from 12:30-2 p.m. in the Whitewater Hall Community Room. Tonatiuh’s visit is made possible by the hard work of Amigos and numerous partnerships throughout the community.
The event is free and open to the public.
Tonatiuh received the 2012 Tomas Rivera National Award and the Pure Belpré Award for Best Latino Children’s Book Illustrator Depicting the Mexican American Experience for his book, Diego Rivera; His World and Ours published in 2011 by Abrams Books for Young Readers.
At IU East, Tonatiuh will present “Contemporary Codices: Using Ancient Art to Address Today’s World,” and discuss how he creates his artwork, his culture and how it influences his writing and drawing, and share the story of his transition from art student to professional artist and writer.
Dianne Moneypenny, Spanish lecturer at IU East, said, “In graduate school I was lucky to have a course on pre-colonial Latin American imagery. So, when I opened Tonatiuh’s books I gasped. It’s genius. He uses a traditional system of hieroglyphics combined with contemporary Hispanic themes,” Moneypenny said.
She said these hieroglyphs are important because when Europeans arrived in Latin America, they considered the indigenous populations illiterate and barbaric.
“The Europeans thought their job was to convert the natives. So, in their minds, part of that job included destroying these ‘pagan’ codices. Thousands were burned and a huge piece of cultural knowledge on medicines, history, and mathematics, was lost. Tonatiuh resuscitates his heritage via this hieroglyphic language and therefore changes the rhetoric of oppression,” Moneypenny said.
While in Richmond, Tonatiuh will visit Fairview Elementary, Elizabeth Starr Academy, Vaile Elementary, Test Middle School, Corazón Latino Youth and Earlham College.
Tonatiuh received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Integrated Design from the Parsons New School of Design and his Bachelor of Arts in Writing from Eugene Lang College, both in New York. In addition to Diego Rivera; His World and Ours, Tonatiuh is the author and illustrator of Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. His short graphic novel, Journey of a Mixteco, received the 2010 Regional Art Festival’s grand prize for the best project in Tbilisi, Georgia.
In 2011, Tonatiuh received the Américas Award Commended Title for Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin and his book was placed on the Notable Book for a Global Society list. Previously in 2010, he received Honorable Mention from the Pura Belpré Award co-sponsored by the American Library Association and REFORMA, as well as the 2010 Notable Children’s Book by Association of Library Service to Children and was placed on the Best of the Best Books list by the Chicago Public Library and the Best of 2010 list by Kirkus Reviews.