MassMu Exhibits Illustrations by Sean Qualls during Black History Month

News Release:  MassMu Exhibits Illustrations by Sean Qualls during Black History Month

The exhibition of Published and Unpublished Illustrations of Sean Qualls has been extended until May 24 in the second floor gallery of the Massillon Museum. This month, the exhibition especially marks Black History Month by featuring an award-winning African-American children’s book illustrator, artist, and author. 

Recently included on lists of top children's books, Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork illustrates the 2013 book Lullaby (for a Black Mother), a poem by Langston Hughes. Barnes and Noble writes about the book: “Sean Qualls’s painted and collaged artwork captures universally powerful maternal moments with tenderness and whimsy.” Amazon writes: “Like little love-ones, this beautiful book is a treasure.”

“The Massillon Museum is honored to exhibit Qualls’ artwork; many of his illustrations capture inspiring moments in the lives of legendary musicians, and his style colorful and imaginative style engross viewers in his narratives,” commented Museum Director, Alexandra Nicholis Coon. 

Qualls has illustrated many other celebrated books for children, including Giant Steps to Change The World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis-Lee, Little Cloud and Lady Wind by Toni Morrison and her son Slade, and Before John Was a Jazz Giant, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustration Honor. Qualls also created the art for Dizzy by Jonah Winter and Freedom Song by Sally Walker. 

When his work was awarded two Blue Ribbon citations from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Qualls was commended for “serious craftsmanship” and “original style.” The American Library Association (ALA) credited him with a “Notable Children’s Book,”School Library Journal awarded him “Best Book of the Year,” and Young Adult Library Service Association (YALSA) honored his work among “Best Books for Young Adults.”  He has been honored by the Society of Illustrators in New York and Los Angeles.

Qualls has created illustrations for magazines, newspapers, and advertisements. Among his clients are Simon & Schuster, Starbuck’s, Pepsi-Cola, Scholastic, Random House, Houghton-Mifflin/Harcourt,  Candlewick Press, Henry Holt, Little Brown, Harper Collins, Harvard Business Review, and READ Magazine.

The artist’s work, which has been shown in galleries in New York and across the United States, draws inspiration from diverse influences: movies, television, childhood memories, aging and decaying surfaces, architecture, nature, folk art, fairy tales, Americana, black memorabilia, outsider art, cave paintings, collectibles, African art, Golden Books, vintage advertisements, mythology, science fiction, music, and literature. 

Qualls lives in lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, illustrator/author Selina Alko, and their two children. Learn more about the artist at or  

The Published and Unpublished Illustrations of Sean Qualls can be seen through Sunday, May 24, during regular Museum hours—Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.  A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free.  Copies of Qualls’s books are available for sale in the Museum Shop.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon.  Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots.  For more information, call 330.833.4061 or visit

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