WILSON, N.C. – Acclaimed children’s book illustrators Bonnie Christensen, Meredith Hamilton, and Loren Long will be the featured guests for a panel discussion with moderator Susan B. Fecho, Barton art professor and illustrator, at the Barton College Friends of Hackney Library spring dinner on Tuesday, March 31. The evening’s festivities, to be held in Hardy Alumni Hall, will begin with a book signing and wine reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7 p.m.

While all three panelists have illustrated a variety of works in their careers, some of their best-known works are the children’s books they have illustrated. Moderator Susan Fecho has also illustrated children’s books as well. An interesting common denominator of this event is that beyond children’s book illustrations, all the panel participants share a personal Wilson, N.C., connection.

Tickets for the dinner event are $35 per person, with reservations accepted until March 24.  Members of the Barton College Friends of Hackney Library may reserve tickets for $30 per person.  Table reservations must be for a total of eight persons. Please contact Cynthia Collins at 399-6503 for reservations or additional information.

Christensen, a book illustrator and author, is a native of Saranac Lake, N.Y. She began her career working in New York theater after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Communication from the University of Vermont. Her theater work included Joe Papp’s Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, and others. Christensen eventually focused primarily on playwriting, and some of her plays were produced off-off-Broadway. During this time, she also worked for Screen Actors Guild and Paramount Pictures. She also contributed to periodicals such as Vermont Life, National Gardening, and Ladybug.

After studying wood engraving and attending classes at Parsons School of Design and Center for Book Arts, Christensen returned to Vermont to focus on wood engraving and was offered her first illustration work. As she explained her eventual emergence as a book author and illustrator, she shared, “Through a keen interest in printmaking and letterpress printing, I eventually hand-printed and bound a limited-edition book. Desire to see that book reach a wider audience eventually led me to trade publishers and initiated my career” (Excerpt from “Something About the Author” (vol. 110, p. 41).

Christensen authored and illustrated her first book for children in 1994, an ABC book called “An Edible Alphabet,” which received critical acclaim for its design and illustrations. Other books she has both written and illustrated include “Rebus Riot” (1997), “Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People” (2001), “In My Grandmother’s House” (2003), “The Daring Nellie Bly” (2003), and the forthcoming “Django” (2009). In addition, Christensen has illustrated others’ works, including award winners such as Stephen Krensky’s “Breaking Into Print” (1996), Craig Crist Evan’s “Moon Over Tennessee” (1999), and Mary Pope Osborne’s “Pompeii, Lost and Found” (2006), among others.

Christensen was guest lecturer/artist-in-residence at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, in Venice, Italy, and prior to her recent move to Wilson where she now resides, she served as adjunct professor of fine arts at St. Michaels’ College in Burlington, Vt.

Hamilton has drawn and painted for numerous companies including Visa International, W. W. Norton and Doubleday. She was an art director at Newsweek and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Her whimsical illustrations have been used in television ads, animations, maps, and children’s books, including “The Story of the Orchestra,” “A Child’s Introduction to Poetry,” “A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky,” “A Child’s Introduction to Ballet,” and “A Child’s Introduction to the Environment.” In addition to children’s books, Hamilton has also illustrated travel, fashion, and self-help books, cookbooks, calendars, bookmarks, and stationery, as displayed on her web site.

She lives with her two children and husband in Brooklyn, N.Y. Hamilton is the niece of Wilson resident, arts patron, and former owner of The North Star Gallery, Lisa Anderson.

A native of Joplin, Mo., Long was raised in Lexington, Ky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design/Art Studio and continued with graduate studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. After a stint working as an illustrator for the now-defunct Gibson Greeting Card company in Cincinnati, Ohio, Long gained recognition as an editorial illustrator for such magazines as Forbes, Time, and Sports Illustrated, to name a few. He has also illustrated book covers for major publishing houses and produced murals and other works of art.

But as his web site explains, he “believes his calling as a storyteller lies in illustrating children’s books, often coupling his art with iconic American literary works.” His work has been described by the New York Times as exhibiting “muscular style inspired by 1930′s W.P.A. murals,” as well as reflecting the influence of the work of Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood.

Long has illustrated a number of children’s books, including those by well-known authors and celebrities: Madonna’s “Mr. Peabody’s Apples” (New York Times bestseller), Angela Johnson’s “I Dream of Trains” (2003 Golden Kite Award for best picture book illustration), Walt Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (2004 Golden Kite Honor and 2004 Parent’s Choice Gold Award), a new edition of Watty Piper’s “The Little Engine that Could” (New York Times bestseller), the adult gift book version of Frank McCourt’s “Angela and the Baby Jesus,” and Randall de Sève’s “Toy Boat” (2007 Publishers Weekly Cuffie Award).

Many of these have garnered awards or achieved best-seller status. In addition, Long has co-written and illustrated three of the planned six chapter books in the “Slugger” (formerly Barnstormer) series (New York Times bestselling serial) with fellow vintage baseball buff Phil Bildner. He has also collaborated with fellow illustrators David Shannon and David Gordon to illustrate children’s author Jon Scieszka’s “Trucktown” series, aimed at the pre-reading audience.

Long’s latest work, released in October 2008, is the first picture book that he not only illustrated but also authored solo, “Drummer Boy,” adapted from the classic Christmas song, “The Drummer Boy.”

He makes his home in West Chester, Ohio, with his wife, Tracy, and their two sons, Griffith and Graham. Long is the first cousin of Barton College education professor Dr. David Dolman of Wilson.

Fecho, chair of the Barton College Department of Art, received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art from East Carolina University.  She has served on the Barton College faculty since 1997 and has over 20 years of experience teaching and working with art students in the United States and abroad.

She also works professionally in the field of design, digital imaging, and mixed media.  And, she exhibits regionally and nationally in galleries and museums and at colleges and universities. She has published illustrations, designs, and photographs, and her work has been accepted into several major collections, including: The Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library (Washington, D.C.), the Word and Image Department, Victoria and Albert Museum (London, England), the Zimmerli Art Museum, NAWA Collection, Rutgers University (New Jersey), and the Museum of Women Artists (Washington, D.C.).

Fecho’s most recently published work includes the illustrations in a new children’s book, “The Day Anna Ganna Bandanna Learned to Fly,” one of a planned series written by Dr. Vernon Lindquist, former vice president for academic affairs at Barton College.

She makes her home in Tarboro with her husband, Scott, but Fecho is equally well known in the Wilson community because of her affiliation with Barton College and through her participation in the Wilson County art scene.

The event is sponsored in part by BB&T.

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Questions?  Contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.