Banned Books Week Public Reception and Pop-Up Gallery

September 30, 2019

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Chapel Hill Public Library’s popular Banned Books Trading Cards are back. The public is invited to get a sneak peek at the winning submissions, meet the artists, and celebrate the opening of the exhibit at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, in the library’s lobby.

All of the pieces submitted by local artists will be on display. Pieces were inspired by books and authors that have been banned or challenged. There will be refreshments, a silent auction of the seven winning pieces of original artwork, and complete sets of this year’s cards.

In addition, a pop-up gallery featuring previous winning entries from the first six years of the project is open seven days a week in a vacant storefront on Franklin Street. The retrospective, which features more than 50 works of art, is open to the public for the final weeks of September at Gallery 109, located at 109 E. Franklin St.

About the project:

For the seventh year, Chapel Hill Public Library, in partnership with Community Arts & Culture, marks Banned Books Week by celebrating local artists, great literature, and intellectual freedom. The cards were originally conceived by Library Director Susan Brown during her tenure as Marketing Director at Lawrence Public Library (LPL) in Lawrence, KS and were funded the first year with a Judith F. Krug Memorial grant from the Freedom to Read Foundation. The project garnered national and international attention, as well as a John Cotton Dana award from the American Library Association. LPL continues to produce cards, and when Brown took over the helm of CHPL in 2013, she brought the project with her.

Banned Books Week (Sept. 22–28) is an annual celebration of the freedom to read, sponsored by a number of national organizations and celebrated nationwide. Chapel Hill Public Library uses the national initiative as an opportunity to showcase the talents of local artists as well. The Library puts out a call for area artists to create works of art that are inspired by a banned or challenged book or author. A jury selects seven pieces to be printed as trading cards, with facts about the book, the author, and artist on the back of the card. The project provides art and literature enthusiasts with a unique set of local art plus opportunities to learn about ongoing challenges to their freedom to read.

The 2019 sets of cards are given away for free at Chapel Hill Public Library, UNC Chapel Hill libraries, and Gallery 109 at 109 E. Franklin St.

This year, the winning set features works of oil painting, pen and ink, mixed media, and watercolor inspired by authors and characters including Toni Morrison, Angie Thomas, and E.B. White.