Thomas Scholfield Handforth
Selected Etchings and Prints
December 3 - January 9, 2016
Gallery talk with exhbit curator Robert Schuler
Saturday, December 5 @ 12:30 p.m.
Born and raised in Tacoma, Thomas Schofield Handforth (1897-1948) was a prolific American artist and illustrator. For this retrospective look at his work, Tacoma Public Library has selected more than 40 of Handforth's images from its extensive holdings. The pieces span the years from when he was a student at Stadium High School through the year 1939.
From 1931 to 1937, he spent time in Japan, China and Mongolia but for most of that period he lived in Peking until he was forced to leave when the Japanese invaded. Sword dancers, stiltwalkers, acrobats, children, jugglers and camels, goats, monkeys and ponies filled his courtyard. His story of the little Chinese girl he met appears in his children’s book, Mei Li. The book brought Handforth the Caldecott Medal in 1938, awarded by the American Library Association for the most distinguished picture book of the year.
In October 1950, The Horn Book Magazine published a special issue entirely devoted to the life and legacy of Thomas Handforth. It reads:
“Though his formal education was short, his intelligence, lively curiosity and subsequent travel gave him a cosmopolitan erudition; a deep interest in all philosophies and ensuing cultures. So keenly attuned was he to all life around him that he deliberately sought to preserve the more joyous aspects lest he become engulfed in sufferings and inequities; holding the faith that life always has its comedy as well as its tragedy and a serene joy for those wise enough to seek it.”