The Sendak Fellowship & Workshop

The Sendak Fellowship/Workshop, a core Program of The Maurice Sendak Foundation, was a residency & workshop that encouraged, taught and supported artists who tell stories with illustration.

For many years, Maurice Sendak wanted to create an ongoing program for what he had been doing informally his whole career: helping promising illustrators. As a young illustrator himself, Sendak was nurtured in the Connecticut home of Ruth Krauss (A Hole Is To Dig) and Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon). Though Sendak, on occasion, taught illustrating and the art of the picture book in formal educational settings (Parsons School of Design, Yale, etc.), he wanted to create a more intimate setting for passing on his knowledge and artistic wisdom.

In 2009, Maurice Sendak enlisted the help of his long-time assistant, Lynn Caponera, as well as photographer and community activist Dona Ann McAdams to help realize his vision of a workshop for illustrators and in 2010 The Sendak Fellowship was founded. Though Sendak was only able to greet and mentor two groups of Fellows before his passing, his legacy was carried on each year through the program.

Once a year, The Sendak Fellowship offered a four-week retreat for two to four artists to live and work away from the distractions of their daily routines. It gave artists the opportunity to deeply engage in their work in the relative isolation of a rural setting. While receiving inspiration from each other, the Fellows gained insight from visiting artists and professionals in the field. And though Sendak himself was not around, his original work was available for viewing by the Fellows, an education in itself. Throughout the Fellowshop guest illustrators and writers led wide-ranging discussions on publishing, illustrating, writing, and the creative process.

The goal of The Sendak Fellowship, in Maurice’s words, was for the Fellows to “ . . . create work that is not vapid or stupid, but original; work that excites and incites. Illustration is like dance; it should move like—and to—music.”

The Sendak Fellowship was inaugurated in 2010 and ran for three years at a house on Maurice Sendak’s property in Ridgefield, Connecticut. It then temporarily moved to a property in upstate New York. It is now being developed as a new program with a new name and new parameters and will return sometime in the future at a new location.


Past Sendak Fellows

Antoinette Portis, Aaron Renier, Paul Schmidt, Robert Weinstock

Ali Bahrampour, Frann Preston-Gannon, Sergio Ruzzier, Denise Saldutti Egielski

Gerardo Blumenkrantz, Tor Freeman, Alice Lickens

Jessica Ahlberg, Ian Andrew, Marc Rosenthal, Sara Varon

Harry Bliss, Nora Krug

Richard Egielski, Marc McChesney, Doug Salati, Stephen Savage

Elisha Cooper, Jenni Desmond, Yuyi Morales

The Fan Brothers – Terry and Eric Fan, Rashin Kheiriyeh, Eliza Wheeler

Copyright 2019 The Maurice Sendak Foundation