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What kids learn from wordless novels and relief printmaking with George Walker

Updated: May 30

Release date: May 27, 2024

George Walker is an artist, educator, and historian, who is best known for his books about public figures ranging from Leonard Cohen to Tom Thomson. George tells these stories without words, using only images printed from wood he engraves. These wordless novels, as they are known, are in the tradition of works by Frans Masereel, Lynd Ward, and Otto Nückel, all famous artists who have inspired George and whom he has written about in his more academic books on creating relief prints and on appreciating wordless novels. I was excited to have George on the podcast because I think there is something profound about his art and his medium that can really benefit kids. First, wordless novels are accessible to everyone, regardless of their language or level of literacy. Children at every age can pick them up, engage their imaginations, and infer a story. As a child develops, a great wordless novel affords the inference of more nuanced stories or even different stories all together. Second, relief printmaking is an inexpensive technique that children can learn very quickly to make their own stories or individual art pieces, but, while it is easy to pick up initially, relief printmaking scaffolds perfectly, allowing infinite room for children to challenge and develop their skills. Of course, George explains all of this better than I do. More information about George and his art is below.

Biography of George Walker

George A. Walker is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and author whose courses in book arts and printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor, have been offered continuously since 1985. His artworks are held in collections ranging from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City and he has had over 15 solo exhibitions as well as been included in more than 100 group shows. Among many book projects—both trade and limited edition—Walker has illustrated 2 hand-printed books by internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman. Walker also illustrated the first Canadian edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, both published by the Cheshire Cat Press. The Cheshire Cat Press is a partnership between Andy Malcolm and George Walker which continues to publish limited edition books featuring the writing of Lewis Carroll. George Walker was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002 for his contribution to the cultural area of Book Arts. He is also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto where he was featured in a solo exhibition of his books and printmaking in the spring of 2019.


George Walker




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