Celebrated for visual works that have documented African-American cultural traditions and expanded the recognized styles of fine art in major exhibitions, Red Room member Michele Wood is also an award-winning book illustrator whose work adorns the pages of the modern holiday classic, Christmas Soul, and the recently published My Holy Bible for African-American Children.
The Before Columbus Foundation presented with Wood and with an American Book Award in 1997 for Going Back Home and in 1999 she received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for her work in I See the Rhythm (both titles with author Toyomi Igus). In addition, Wood, a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, created the 1993 Black History Month Series Poster for the city of Atlanta, Georgia.
Christmas Soul, African-American Holiday Stories
Christmas Soul (Hyperion Books, with Allison Samuels) is a collection of twenty childhood stories inspired by the lives of such celebrated icons as Debbie Allen, Halle Berry, Kobe Bryant, Jamie Foxx, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, LL Cool J, Pattie LaBelle, Usher, and Denzel Washington. Each story is accompanied by a vibrant full-page illustration of the individual as a child with scenes from the story itself. Wood’s craftsmanship is particularly compelling for the artist’s interpretative blending of distinctly American scenes with African textile imagery and decorative patterns.
CHRISTMAS SOUL by Michele Wood
and Allison Samuels
Among the holiday recollections is that of NBA basketball great Shaquille O’Neal’s "Dad and Me," in which he compares the gift of a Stretch Armstrong Doll to that of time spent with his father. "I loved that doll, but to be honest, the best thing about any Christmas for me was the time my father and I spent together. When my sisters were busy enjoying all of their toys, Dad and I would go off and play ball or bowl, or just hang out for the day."
In the story "Hang All the Mistletoe," singer Mary J. Blige recalls that as a child, "We decorated our house from top to bottom. The best part about decorating was that we did it with decorations we’d made by hand at school–paper snowflakes and snowmen were my favorites."
A percentage of the proceeds from sales of Christmas Soul go the United Negro College Fund. Moreover, a number of the original paintings of celebrities featured in the book are also available for purchase.
For more on Michele Wood and her newest works please click here