Artist Nikkolas Smith Transforms “The 1619 Project” Into Illustrations for a Children’s Book

For the recently released children’s book The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, artist Nikkolas Smith translates a story of slavery—from kidnap to forced labor and the quest for freedom—into powerful illustrations. Published by Penguin Random House, the pictorial work is an extension of journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’ groundbreaking journalistic series for The New York Times, which addressed the role of slavery in the founding and development of America, as well as its dire longstanding consequences. Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson penned the text to accompany Smith’s striking visuals. “I think children are brilliant and can understand complex ideas,” he tells Fast Company. “You don’t want to dumb slavery down for them. We should absolutely teach them history as it happened, rather than whitewashing it and telling them things that are untrue.” Read more about the way he approached the project at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Penguin Random House