September 2021-January 2022
Los Gatos and Foster City, California, USA
In 2021 the “Szancer, Imagine That!” exhibition was presented at the Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos, CA and the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, CA.
This analogue exhibition invites you into the world of the imagination of the famous Polish-Jewish illustrator, Jan Marcin Szancer, on whose works generations of children and teenagers have been raised!
Jan Marcin Szancer is an institution in the realm of Polish children’s book illustration, and he is well-known to all who were raised on the poems of Julian Tuwim and Jan Brzechwa, those who have read the adventures of Mr. Kleks, or Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Even though the illustrator is known mainly for his colourful works for various fairytales, his biography, which includes his experience of both world wars and anti-Jewish repressions, is far from a fairytale.
We want to invite our visitors into the world of Szancer: first, little Jaś who is just learning to draw; then Janek, a young man who is making his first steps in his career as an illustrator; and finally, the respectable Mr. Jan who, in spite of his difficult experiences, even as an adult did not lose his childlike imagination.
Apart from several dozen of the most important and beautiful creations from Jan Marcin Szancer’s extensive body of work, the exhibition also includes installations created especially for the display: a closet with a double bottom, a locomotive with a whistle, and a wall of invisible fears! Thanks to this set design, visitors have a chance to feel more like the heroes of a fairytale, which is based on important events from the life of the famous illustrator, and they can let their imagination run wild!
The exhibition is predominantly aimed at children, but it also includes a second narrative directed at adults. This part tells the story of Szancer’s fate and the complicated and dramatic experiences of Polish Jews in the second half of the 20th century.
The project is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage and Sport/Culture Promotion Fund, and supported by Taube Philanthropies, Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland in San Francisco, and the San Francisco-Kraków Sister Cities Association.