What do Maurice Sendak, Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, and Henry Miller have in common?
Over the years – and into the present day – their works have all been censored or banned by a variety of groups for a variety of reasons.
They are also all featured in Chapel Hill Public Library's second annual Banned Books Week Trading Cards.
Banned Books Week (Sept. 21-27) is an annual celebration of the freedom to read, sponsored by a number of national organizations and celebrated at libraries and bookstores nationwide. The purpose of the week is to raise awareness of challenges to intellectual freedom and highlight censorship cases of the past and present. For a local twist on this national initiative, Chapel Hill Public Library, together with the Office of Public and Cultural Arts, asks local artists to help out.
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This summer, the library put out a call for submissions, asking local artists to submit small scale works inspired by a banned book or author. From 73 entries, a jury selected seven pieces to be printed as trading cards. The back of the card is designed like a traditional trading card, with facts about the book, the author, and artist. During Banned Books Week, a new card will be revealed each day and given away at the library. By the end of the week, area art and literature lovers can acquire a unique collection of local art that carries an important message. To celebrate the second year of the library hosting the project, the jury also selected a youth entry to receive a special cash award.
The jury that narrowed the field to seven included Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, local author and artist Clay Carmichael, and members of the arts community. Library Director Susan Brown, a jury member, notes that the seven cards represent a wide variety of books and artistic styles.
“We start the week with a portrait of Walt Whitman, then move into a collage inspired by ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’” Brown describes. “The rest of the week holds watercolor, cut paper, and more artistic mediums that pay tribute to great – and controversial – literature. The art serves as a compelling conversation starter about the important topic of intellectual freedom.”
The first card will be made available on Sunday, Sept. 21, and promoted in the library and on its social media channels. In addition to the cards being given out that week, the library will also host an exhibition of all 73 entries to the project. If you can't make it into the library that week, the Friends of the Library will offer the cards for sale on their website: friendschpl.org/
To kick everything off - and offer an exclusive first look at the winning cards - the library is hosting a "Sneak Peek Party" from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19. The public is invited to stop by, meet the artists, see the exhibit, and even bid in a silent auction to take home some of the original art. All proceeds from card sales and silent auction go to support the collections, programs, and services of the library.
To see each day's card unveiled, stop by the library, visit their website at www.chapelhillpubliclibrary.org, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. The Banned Books Trading Cards are made possible by the the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library and the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation.