Lexington, Kentucky – Friday, February 11, 2022 —Shadelandhouse Modern Press is honored to announce the forthcoming publication tentatively scheduled for fall 2022 of A Journey in Color: The Art of Ellis Wilson, written by Kentucky author Jayne Moore Waldrop, and illustrated by Tennessee artist Michael J. McBride.

A Journey in Color: The Art of Ellis Wilson—an inspiring nonfiction picture book of hope, perseverance, and confidence—tells the story of a young African American man’s determined path to become a classically trained artist. Growing up in Mayfield, Kentucky, in the early 20th century, Wilson needed to convince his family and neighbors that art was a path worth choosing instead of becoming a farmer or teacher. And he had to find an art school that judged him for his talent, not the color of his skin.

In the book Ellis Wilson’s own words are used as quotes, gleaned from Waldrop’s review of his personal papers archived at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art. She also read his interviews in newspapers and magazines that were published during his lifetime as well as academic papers about Wilson’s art.

McBride’s life and his journey as an artist have much in common with Ellis Wilson. McBride grew up in a rural Southern farming community and his art reflects his history and his African American heritage.

“I am honored to be selected to illustrate this book about the life of African American artist, Ellis Wilson. I understand his drive and focus because my artistic journey resembles his journey and makes this book exciting to illustrate. I want to thank Virginia Underwood of Shadlandhouse Modern Press and writer Jayne Moore Waldrop for believing in me.”

“We are honored and excited to publish Jayne Moore Waldrop’s wonderfully researched and beautifully crafted story for young readers, to be brought to life by the vibrant, imaginative, and dynamic illustrations of artist Michael J. McBride,” noted Virginia H. Underwood, Publisher of Shadelandhouse Modern Press. “We first began discussions with Jayne in 2020 about her manuscript A Journey in Color: The Art of Ellis Wilson. Jayne spoke passionately about the need to tell the story of the strength, talent, and perseverance of Ellis Wilson who was born in Mayfield, Kentucky in 1899, dreamed of becoming a classically trained painter, and was one of the first African American students admitted to the Art Institute of Chicago and a two-time recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. We were impressed with Jayne’s extensive research to authentically represent Ellis Wilson—the man, his life, and his art—and with her vision for a picture book geared toward K-4 students particularly in social studies and American art curricula about the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and African American artists. After Jayne signed with us in 2021, we began our search for the perfect illustrator. We are thrilled to have found Michael J. McBride, a tremendously talented visual artist, with the ability to relate personally and artistically to A Journey in Color and to visualize it through the imagination as a child. And we love Michael’s infectious laugh. Collaborating with both Jayne and Michael is a joy. A Journey in Color: The Art of Ellis Wilson is the first of three new picture books by Jayne Moore Waldrop to join our catalogue for young readers. She Remembers It All: The Art of Memory Painter Helen LaFrance and Back to Their Nests are completed picture book manuscripts to be published in future seasons. Both are connected to Jayne’s beloved western Kentucky, the place and the people.”

Photo by Tim Webb

Jayne Moore Waldrop is a Kentucky writer and lawyer. She’s the author of Drowned Town (University Press of Kentucky 2021); Pandemic Lent: A Season in Poems (Finishing Line Press 2021); and Retracing My Steps (Finishing Line Press 2019). She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky (B.A., J.D.) and the Murray State University MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Courtesy of Michael J. McBride

Michael J. McBride is a Nashville based African American artist and a professor at Tennessee State University. He has illustrated over 75 children’s books and he was recently commissioned to paint a large mural honoring late Congressman John Lewis in downtown Nashville. McBride earned his undergraduate degree in art from Tennessee State University and his graduate degree in painting from Illinois State University, where he credits Dr. Harold Gregor with providing a world class artistic mentorship.

Shadelandhouse Modern Press, LLC is a Lexington, Kentucky-based, women-owned and family-operated independent book publishing company committed to the advancement of established and emerging writers, excellence in publishing, and the production of high quality, entertaining, and artistic books. We believe that adults and children should have access to authentic and relevant stories that reflect diverse backgrounds, interests, and cultures. We publish authentic and compelling books for adults and young readers, including nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. The press debuted with two award-winning legal nonfiction (history and true crime) books and has since published award-winning fiction, poetry, and children’s books. Shadelandhouse Modern Press is a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association and an associate member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and Poetry Society of America. For more information visit our website at https://smpbooks.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Contact: Virginia H. Underwood, Publisher, Shadelandhouse Modern Press

859.576.1030 | [email protected] | smpbooks.com