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Traci Zaretzka presents ‘Zory’s Portraits’

When Zory and her classmates go on a field trip to a portrait museum, they are excited and amazed by all of the beautiful paintings they see. But as Zory walks through the museum, she notices something that bothers her: none of the faces in the portraits look like her. Where are the zebra portraits? When her teacher tells the class to choose a favorite portrait because they are going to copy it, Zory has trouble making a choice – until she comes up with her own solution.

What Zory notices about the museum she visits is the same thing a lot of people experience when visiting museums. Many well-known museums lack diversity in both the artwork and the artists they show. Not everyone notices the lack of diversity, and many of those who do often accept it as the status quo. But not Zory. She sees the diversity in the world around her, and she doesn’t understand why a museum would not reflect that diverse world. So she tries to change it.

Traci Zaretzka’s background is in fine art and elementary education. She often used picture books as teaching tools. Like Zory, she noticed that both picture books and the standard art curriculum often did not represent the diverse world in which her students lived. She wants to write stories that not only acknowledge the diversity of the world that today’s children are growing up in, but celebrates it. She wants all children to feel that she is speaking to them and about them with her stories.

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