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Annie Vallotton draws
Annie Vallotton was the illustrator of the iconic Bible images published in the American Bible Society’s Good News Bible—one of the best-selling Bibles of all time. Her 500+ timeless line drawings conveyed a biblical narrative that transcended race, gender, and language, and were teachable in their own right.

“I did some of the drawings for the Good News Bible 80-90 times before I achieved the one I wanted,” Vallotton said in a 2008 interview. “I wanted to get to the truth… the most important thing.”

Good News Bible with Vallotton illustration

Vallotton was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. She dedicated her life to sharing the Bible’s message in clear, simple, and inspiring ways. During WW II she served as a messenger in the French resistance. In addition to the Good News Bible, Vallotton illustrated other Christian books, traveled, taught, and designed stained glass windows. Annie passed away in 2013 at the age of 98, but her gifts live on.

The American Bible Society captured many of Vallotton's unique storytelling and drawing presentations of Bible stories on 16mm film. They are available online here. Here is a charming sample:

One of the surprising features of Vallotton's New Testament illustrations is that Jesus doesn't have any facial features. Don Griggs shared with us an explanation given to him by Annie.

Annie wrote, “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.”

Annie wrote that she wants the viewer to imagine Jesus in their own way.

Here is additional explanation from John Fea, author of a history of the American Bible Society, when asked about Annie's "faceless" Jesus illustrations in the Good News Bible.

The American Bible Society believes these drawings transcended nationality, language, and race. By omitting facial details, skin color, and other cultural indicators on her figures, Valloton hopes that every reader will see their own Jesus; one that was particularly right for him or her.

The Vallotton drawings presented here at Rotation.org were originally commissioned by Don and Pat Griggs for a series of scripted teaching presentations for adults and children that they produced as part of their Griggs Education Service publishing ministry.

Read the next post for more information on the drawings in the Griggs-Vallotton collection here at Rotation.org.

Links to more information about Annie Vallotton and her art:

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Thank you to Pat & Don GriggsAbout Don and Pat Griggs

Don and Pat are two of the most well-known creative Christian educators of the past 50 years. Together they have published dozens of books, curriculums, and multi-media resources for Christian education through Griggs Educational Resources and other publishers such as Abingdon and Westminister-John Knox and developed Kerygma and LOGOS curriculum. They have led seminars across the denominations. With an eye for innovation and creativity, Don became one of the early adopters and teachers of the Workshop Rotation Model for Sunday School at his Sacramento, CA church in the late 90s.

On behalf of the Rotation.org Board and its members, we are grateful for their ministry and for sharing their collection of Annie Vallotton Bible images with today's and tomorrow's teachers and children!

More about the Griggs

Donald Griggs has spent his entire career in educational ministry in a variety of settings: associate pastor for three churches, co-founder of Griggs Educational Service with Patricia, associate professor of Christian education at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, and co-managing editor, with PaPhoto of Don and Pat Griggst, of the Faith for Life Curriculum for the LOGOS Program. After retiring in 1999, Don served as executive director of Pilgrims of Ibillin, a U.S.-based support group for schools in Ibillin, Israel, with 2,500 students and faculty who are Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Don and Pat were honored as Educators of the Year in 1993 by the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators. Don has authored or co-authored more than 20 books for church educators, pastors, and teachers. His most recent book is Called to Teach, a collection of essays, workshop designs, and teaching strategies. During the pandemic and a time of meeting virtually, Don has created three Bible study courses on Luke, Acts, and Psalms that are designed to be taught via Zoom.

A detailed biography of Don

Patricia (Pat) Griggs is known for her creativity and leadership in Christian Education. In 1968 she, with her husband Donald, created Griggs Educational Service (GES) which served church school teachers, educators, and pastors through publications, resources, and workshops for more than 35 years. Pat has taught all age groups in Sunday schools, retreats, and conferences, authored more than a dozen books, created audiovisual resources, managed the offices of GES, taught religion in a girl’s school in Richmond VA, and led continuing education events at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. In 1993, Don and Pat were honored by the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators as Educators of the Year for their outstanding contributions to Christian Education. Pat was also the Director of Publications for the LOGOS Program for 14 years, doing leadership training and creating and overseeing their publications. In retirement, Pat continues her love of the Bible as she attends Bible studies and participates as a volunteer in her local church.

How the Griggs-Vallotton Collection Came About

Don writes...
In the 1960s the American Bible Society published a new translation of the Bible, The Today’s English Version, commonly known as The Good News Bible. This Bible included several hundred line drawings created by the Swiss artist, Annie Vallotton.

While Pat and I were engaged in managing Griggs Educational Service in the 1970s we had the privilege of meeting Annie at a church in Walnut Creek, California, where she made an evening presentation. She used a clear roll of transparency film on an overhead projector to tell and illustrate Bible stories. It was a glorious evening. We introduced ourselves and told her about the many ways we were using the line drawings she had created in our teaching and leading workshops. Our daughter Cathy went with us and had the presence of mind to take her Good News New Testament. Annie illustrated on the spot, a line drawing of Cathy on the title page. In addition, she gave us a portion of the transparency roll she had created in the presentation, to take with us.

A couple of years after meeting Annie Vallotton we sent a letter to her inquiring whether she would consider creating a series of large line drawings that we could use as a basis for creating four audio-visuals we were creating. She responded in the affirmative with a signed agreement. Several months later we received 160 beautiful simple line drawings to illustrate our presentations.

In a letter to us, Annie wrote, “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.” You will notice in every drawing where Jesus is depicted his face is blank. Annie wrote that that is intentional because she wants the ones viewing the drawing to see Jesus in their own way, using their creativity to imagine how Jesus would look.

How the Griggs Vallotton Collection Found a Home at Rotation.org

Don Griggs first learned about the Workshop Rotation Model in 1996 at a seminar led by our own Neil MacQueen. He became an early adopter of the Model—using it in his own church, and sharing it with other churches west of the Rockies. Don also contributed some materials to Rotation.org in its early days. Wanting to offer their Vallotton collection to the next generation, Don and Pat turned to us as its custodian.

________________________

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