Back of the Bus: Illustrations by Floyd Cooper

On View December 8, 2018 – May 5, 2019

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.

Related Programs

Artist Talk & Reception
February 28, 3:30 PM
Artist Floyd Cooper talks about Back of the Bus, his other work, and designing this year’s KWANZAA stamp for the US Postal Service. Come to CMA early at 3:30 pm to enjoy a reception and viewing of the exhibition Back of the Bus: Illustrations by Floyd Cooper before heading to the auditorium at Columbus College of Art & Design’s Canzani Center for Cooper’s presentation at 4:30 pm. This program is free; however, reservations are requested. 


Presented in partnership with Columbus College of Art & Design

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