THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours): 10th Anniversary Activity & Coloring Book is the first artist’s book created by international award-winning author and artist John Schlimm, and published by Kane Area Children’s Museum.
John created the artist’s book to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his Participatory and Interactive, multimedia project of the same name, which he launched in 2014 at the intersection of ART x MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS x COMMUNITY SERVICE.
The Kane Area Children’s Museum releases first publication—
“THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours):
10th Anniversary Activity & Coloring Book”—
the first artist’s book created by artist and author John Schlimm
(Kane, PA) – On February 6, the Kane Area Children’s Museum released its first publication: “THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours): 10th Anniversary Activity & Coloring Book” by locally-based international award-winning author and artist John Schlimm. Marking the tenth anniversary of Schlimm’s Participatory and Interactive Art project of the same name that he created at the intersection of ART x MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS x COMMUNITY SERVICE, this is his first artist’s book. The paperback, which is filled with dozens of interactive pages, invites all ages to use their favorite colors, creativity, and imaginations to draw, write, scribble, doodle, and express however and whenever they’d like. It is currently available exclusively on Amazon at-cost so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
An artist’s book is a publication, or other work, that creatively plays with the concept of a “book” and is constructed by an artist using any variety of conventional or unconventional materials, and then released as a mass-produced work, a limited-edition work, or a singular piece. Likewise, the genre of the artist’s book allows the concept of a “book” to take many different forms of expression, ranging from a traditional book, or codex, format with bound cover and pages to such famous alternative versions as the twenty-five-foot, accordion-style “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” (1966) by Ed Ruscha; the sculptural pop-up book “[2,3]” (2011) by Tauba Auerbach; the whimsical, toylike “A hypothetical analysis of the twinkle in stars (as told by a child to a teacher)” (1994) by Katherine Ng; and “Betonbuch” (1971) by Wolf Vostell that was made of concrete.
“As part of ‘THE SMILE’s’ tenth anniversary celebration, I wanted to craft a very special publication that would allow me to further share the project with folks of all ages in a unique, inviting, interactive, and accessible way,” said Schlimm. “The genre of the artist’s book combined with an activity-style theme lent itself perfectly to this mission, allowing me to create a work from scratch, including everything from hand-drawing the pages to assembling and offering them as a print-on-demand work, meaning that every time the book is ordered an essentially one-off edition is created just for that person. This cool and modern grassroots approach, allowing me to further connect one-on-one with people, is a fun little detour after more than twenty-five years of working with some of the biggest publishers in the country on my other books.”
For Schlimm, the Kane Area Children’s Museum became the perfect choice as a publishing partner, continuing the tradition of museums around the globe publishing books created by and about artists and other creatives. Headquartered in Kane, PA, the Museum offers a welcoming and imaginative environment that joins one of the world’s greatest resources—children—with the resources of its community and the surrounding region. Its mission to ignite the curiosity, creativity, and compassion of all children through sensory and interactive experiences also dovetails with so much of the work Schlimm has done with “THE SMILE” as well as through his other efforts as a youth and mental health advocate and educator.
“We are thrilled to partner with John Schlimm and THE SMILE project,” said Jo Wolfe, Board Chair at Kane Area Children’s Museum. “The activity book is a concrete fulfillment of our mission to ignite curiosity, creativity, and compassion. I believe that this project is one step toward truly changing the world. Each individual can make a difference with a smile.”
In addition to publishing this artist’s book, among its collection, the Kane Area Children’s Museum also has the first 3-D Edition of “THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)”, which was created as a collaboration between John Schlimm x Laughing Owl Press Co. in 2022. More than 1,200 people of all ages shared and expressed their feelings and emotions on die-cut discs, which were then connected together to build a sculpture installation titled “Smiles to the Sky: THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours) 3-D”.
This artist’s book, like the larger decade-long “THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)” project, encourages participants and passersby alike to contemplate, realize, and better understand how even our simplest, every-day acts and gestures—such as a smile, a wave, a good deed—can have profound and positive impacts. It invites participants to creatively express, release, and communicate—to share—their feelings in that moment. Over the years, colorful smiles have also been joined on “THE SMILE” installations by tears, frowns, flatlined mouths, and angry expressions—a collective portrait of the human experience. “THE SMILE’s” unique ability to cull self-reflection and shared feelings has transformed it into a powerful platform for Schlimm’s multimedia advocacy of mental health awareness.
Adaptable to any location and occasion, installations of “THE SMILE” mural have been far-ranging in places like K-12 schools, festivals, art centers, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and even as layer #28,588 on the Guinness World Records’ “World’s Largest Ball of Paint”. In the decade since Schlimm launched “THE SMILE”, it has also translated vibrantly into other formats, adaptations, and editions, such as coloring pages, an online/social media version, 3-D disc sculptures, a digital billboard, zines, and 4,000 coins titled “THE SMILE COIN” Project created via a spectacular, year-long STEAM collaboration with the Community Education Center of Elk & Cameron Counties and Dutch Manufacturing students in the St. Marys Area School District—every student received two coins: a smile to keep and a smile to give away.
This year, Schlimm also launched a “SMILE” spin-off project titled “THE BRAIN THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours)”. He is currently working with students at Clearfield County Career and Technology Center High School and Workforce Solutions for North Central PA on the first, collaborative, multimedia version of the project.
For more information about the Kane Area Children’s Museum, please visit www.kachm.org.