This month, the Newseum opened its new exhibit, The 2018 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Editorial Cartoons of Michael Sloan and Jake Halpern. “The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 16. Our exhibit opened on May 25. That’s a fast turnaround, even at the Newseum” noted Patty Rhule, senior director of exhibit development.
This installation showcases the work of the 2018 winners of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan, who created a graphic narrative titled “Welcome to the New World.” The exhibit tells the story of two families who fled civil war in Syria for a better life in the United States. Prior to the installation of the exhibit, the Newseum’s exhibits team interviewed Halpern and Sloan in order to ensure the spirit and quality of the graphic narrative were maintained.
Writer Halpern and illustrator Sloan’s 20-part series appeared in The New York Times. It marked the first Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning won by the Times. Because the series appeared in the Times as a graphic novel, it presented challenges during the design of the exhibit. Rhule explained, “Our designer, Will Simms, was able to make it work in the cartoon rail format on Level 3.” When asked what he found to be the most engaging information displayed in this new exhibit, graphic designer Simms stated, “The part of the families’ story that still sticks with me is how they can never go back home. I can’t imagine losing everything and having to start over somewhere new.”
After spending four years as refugees in Jordan, the families arrived in the United States on Election Day 2016. Halpern and Sloan chronicled their story as they endured death threats, fears of being deported, and everyday adjustments to life and work in America.
The panels on display at the Newseum are the final chapter in the series, when the family discovers their home in Syria has been destroyed. Why check out this new exhibit? “Immigration and limits on immigrants from Syria and other countries has been a controversial, news-making topic. This editorial cartoon allows visitors a look into the lives of the people who are being discussed by politicians and in the press,” Rhule replied.