Floyd Cooper’s powerful children’s book illustrations depict a fictional account by Aaron Reynolds of Rosa Parks’ 1955 refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in this exhibition at Columbus Museum of Art. Parks’ arrest led to a 13-month boycott of city buses. The boycott ended when the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional. In Cooper’s story, readers witness Rosa Parks’ arrest through the eyes of a young, African American boy, who was also on the bus that day.
Cooper illustrates the story with a technique in which he removes areas of paint from his oil washes with a stretchy eraser. He calls this method a “subtractive process.” Accompanying the original art for the book are story boards and preliminary drawings. "Back of the Bus" (Philomel Books, 2010) was designated a Notable Book of 2011 by the National Library Association.