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Illustrator and Long-Time CPE Faculty John Jay Cabuay Illustrates Ruby Bridges’ New Book

Ruby Bridges on the Late Show with Steven Colbert
Ruby Bridges on the Late Show with Steven Colbert.

Visual artist and Parsons Part-time Assistant Professor John Jay Cabuay recently illustrated a bestselling book, Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts, for author Ruby Bridges, who earned featured segments on the Late Show with Steven Colbert and the TODAY Show in January.

American civil rights activist Ruby Nell Bridges Hall has used her experience as the first Black child to attend a segregated all-white elementary school in New Orleans as fuel to make the world a better, safer place.

In 1999, Bridges established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education. “My message is really that racism has no place in the hearts and minds of our children,” writes the foundation’s website.

Having traveled across the United States to hear the stories of concerned young students, Dear Ruby: Hear Our Hearts was compiled from letters from children about today's biggest issues such as bullying, climate change, gun violence, and racism.

When Scholastic's creative team told Cabuay they were interested in collaborating on a special book project, he was excited and honored to find out the book’s author was none other than Ruby Bridges.

John Jay Cabuay is a notable illustrator based in New York City and a longstanding faculty member at The New School. He’s done illustrations for newspapers, magazines, and book covers globally and holds an MFA in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Cabuay has been featured in Taschen's 100 Illustrators, a book showcasing the work of influential illustrators from across the world. You can view more of Cabuay’s work on his website and you can find his illustrations in Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts by Ruby Bridges, now on Scholastic.

“When you work with an American icon of her caliber, you have to be a team player. Ruby has a vision and so does Scholastic. My job is to make that come to life, blending my own vision for the book. To sum it up: colorful, diverse, and engaging illustrations,” says Cabuay.

John Jay Cabuay's illustration in Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts
John Jay Cabuay’s illustration in Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts.

Speaking to her historical and cultural impact, Bridges is also the subject of a famous 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With, by Norman Rockwell. Rockwell was not only a painter but also an illustrator, and he reproduced his illustration for Look magazine, a biweekly magazine that was published in Des Moines, Iowa from the 1930s to 1970s.

Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With
Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With, 1964. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©NRELC, Niles, IL.

“It's possible to make your dreams come true. Hard work and dedication to your craft is the answer. Keep drawing and be open-minded.”

- John Jay Cabuay

Interested in an opportunity to study with Cabuay and improve your illustration skills? Cabuay currently teaches Digital Graphics with Illustrator, Fashion Flats, and Illustration as a Visual Language in the Continuing and Professional Education Department at the New School. The courses are running now and will run again this summer. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know about registration openings.

Bridges shares her wisdom through her book Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts on the TODAY Show on January 22, 2024.

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