Playing Hide And Seek In Amherst

Illustration from Do You Want To Be My Friend? © 1976 by Eric Carle.

The Magical Art of Eric Carle

by John P. Stapleton

As an artist with close to household name status from his children’s books, it’s not a surprise that Eric Carle would be putting so much of his family into his images. At the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, they’ve got a new exhibit called “Hide and Seek” that sheds light on the little family references he’s hidden in various pieces.

“Easter Eggs,” as they’re called, are small pieces of a work that blend in, but are a direct reference to an outside subject. In Pixar movies, you’ll see Buzz Lightyear get thrown around in movies that aren’t Toy Story as a cute reminder of that classic movie, seamlessly dropped into the background of that new world.

For Carle, he was a fan of initials, but didn’t shy away from the route of reusing characters for minor moments in his work. The Hungry Caterpillar himself can be found in many pieces throughout the exhibit as a reoccurring character who’s always present in Carle’s world.

His family references blend more into his iconic style. The rich patterns of his painted collage-style illustrations hide all sorts of shapes that just become a part of the big picture. This is an easy way to slip in initials that won’t draw too much attention from the focus.

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