April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pictures of the Week: Inside Artist and Author Lorenzo Pace’s Studio

SLJ editors Kiera Parrott and Mahnaz Dar got a peek at author, artist, and professor Lorenzo Pace’s studio, located in Brooklyn, NY, on Monday, December 29. Pace is perhaps best known for the sculpture Triumph of the Human Spirit, a monument honoring African slaves buried at the site, erected in 1993. In 2001, Pace wrote and illustrated Jalani and the Lock (Rosen), about his great-grandfather, who was captured in Africa and brought to America as a slave. Pace still has the lock that shackled his great-grandfather, which was passed down to him over the years, and a copy of the lock is buried within the monument.

As a follow-up to his poignant book Jalani, Pace is publishing three other books under the series title “The African American Quartet” Frederick Douglass and the North Star, Harriet Tubman and My Grandmother’s Quilts, and Marching with Martin (all Rosen, 2015). Though his books deal with challenging subjects, all are marked by innovative, mixed-media artwork that adds an uplifting, inspiring tone.

Pace shared his creative process and examples of works in progress at the studio; discussed the play Locked, a collaboration between him and fellow professor Philip Zwerling based on Jalani but aimed at adults; and gave a brief musical demonstration of how he presents Jalani to children on school visits.

Pace unfolds his latest piece of artwork.

Pace unfolds his latest piece of artwork.

Lorenzo Pace shares more art.

Lorenzo Pace shares more art.

Pace with rum

Pace shows off his drumming prowess, demonstrating the kind of call and response exercise he performs with students when presenting on Jalani.


Pace’s grandmother passed down the quilts she made to him. Made from old clothes and anything else she could find, the quilts were, Pace said, a crucial part of his heritage. Inspired by the stories his grandmother told him, Pace penned Harriet Tubman and My Grandmother’s Quilts, incorporating the quilts into the artwork.


Pace’s workstation.