What Might You Do? Christian Robinson

A boy in a neon yellow beanie and round glasses sits on the subway, drawing pictures of the people around him. While his big sister plays on her phone, Milo imagines the lives of the other passengers and records his ideas on a sketchpad: the bride her white dress, the tired businessman, and a boy about his age with his father. When a troupe of break-dancers comes aboard, performing for donations, Milo and his sister are delighted to be distracted on the long ride to see their mother in prison.

Illustrator Christian Robinson captured these characters in Milo Imagines His World, a children’s book produced in collaboration with author Matt de la Peña. With characteristically spare outlines and sophisticated colors, Robinson conveyed the shifting emotions of his subjects as they travel across the city. The book is inspired by the illustrator’s childhood. Growing up in an apartment crowded with family, Christian Robinson took up drawing to make space for himself and create the world he wanted to live in. He went on to graduate from the California Institute of the Arts and worked with the Sesame Street Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios, as well as illustrating children’s books.

Instantly familiar to parents of young children today, Robinson’s illustrations appear in best-selling and critically acclaimed books. Published in 2015, Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Robinson, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and the Newbery Medal. Playful, poignant, and full of positive energy, Robinson’s illustrations celebrate the value of different perspectives and kindness to all.

This summer DelArt is delighted to welcome the national traveling exhibition What Might You Do? Christian Robinson, which features 96 original works of art for 17 children’s books. The artist produces his colorful and modern pictures primarily in acrylic paint and collage, and the exhibition includes study drawings and finished works that give insight into the artist’s process. DelArt’s installation also features a drawing station, artist videos, and a “reading bus” designed by artist-musician Daniel Smith and stocked with Robinson’s books.

Join us to celebrate childhood and the arts on Thursday, July 27, at Kidchella, a family friendly music festival. The fun runs from 4 to 7:30 in the Copeland Sculpture Garden at DelArt.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art

Image: Crew of breakers bounds onto train, 2021 from Milo. Christian Robinson (born 1986). Acrylic paint and collage on paper, 24.5 x 14.25 inches. © 2021 by Christian Robinson.