I rarely request a title from the publisher, but when I heard about this book, I had to ask. Obama and Kadir Nelson? Lay it on me.
Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit was a bit of a surprise. For one thing, it’s small. Like smaller than a breadbox. (Does anyone use an actual breadbox or do we just use the expression?) I was expecting a regular picture book and instead it’s the size of a half-sheet of paper. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I thought you should know.
The second thing shouldn’t have surprised me at all since I’d seen the cover of the book, but it threw me anyway. This isn’t We Are the Ship Kadir Nelson or even Please, Puppy, Please Kadir Nelson. You won’t find his intensely real and lush painting here. Again, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I thought you should know.
What you will find are significant phrases from Obama’s speeches paired with sketches inspired by those words. Some of the sketches are very loosely rendered, like one featuring the backs of several people at voting booths. There are scenes from the rallies that are simply sketched, yet capture the feeling of the crowd and the energy. The illustrations of Obama are the most meticulously drawn, with an accurate and vibrant representation of the man.
Change Has Come offers a quiet, short space for reflection on this amazing election. I kept returning to one picture of a serious, resolute Obama that was accompanied by this phrase: “The audacity to hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.” Because it is tomorrow.