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Review of Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon

Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Intermediate, Middle School    Porter/Roaring Brook    64 pp.
10/17    978-1-62672-520-1    $19.99

“She is a chameleon, changing her appearance from photograph to photograph, so that she is many people but never Cindy.” Prolific biographers-of-artists Greenberg and Jordan (Ballet for Martha, rev. 7/10; The Mad Potter, rev. 1/14) here tackle the mighty task of introducing children to the enigmatic contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman, who rose to fame in the 1970s with her edgy performative self-portraits. And readers do come away with an understanding of this role-playing storyteller, her groundbreaking artistic process, and the inspiration behind her provocative concepts. Clear, unpretentious prose describes how a creative child who loved playing dress-up and make-believe went on to find her artistic niche with photography, then revolutionized the medium with narrative images (all, astonishingly, of herself in various guises) that challenge societal constructs and play with stereotypes. As Sherman’s story unfolds in chronological chapters, punctuated by excellently reproduced photographs on cleanly designed pages, the text offers keen observations young readers will readily grasp and ponder further. With an empowering approach (“There are no right or wrong answers”), the authors consulted real children to interpret Sherman’s photographs in this book; their comments are interspersed, underscoring the message that “art is for everyone at every age.” In this era of Snapchat and Instagram selfies, Sherman’s explorations of identity and perception are perhaps more resonant now than ever, and Greenberg and Jordan distill the ideas lucidly for young readers. Appended “Production Notes” include facts about the still-working artist, notes on her process and practice, a bibliography, and a list of artworks.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Katrina Hedeen About Katrina Hedeen

Katrina Hedeen is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide and manager of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards.

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