BANNED & RECOVEREDArtists Respond to Censorship, an exhibition at two venues
San Francisco Center for the Book Aug. 15-Nov. 26, 2008 Public reception Fri., Aug. 15, 6-8pm Gallery hours: Mon-Fri, 10-5; Sat, 12-4
African American Museum and Library at Oakland Sept. 5-Dec. 31, 2008 Public reception Fri., Sept. 5, 6:30-9:00pm Gallery hours: Tues-Sat, 12-5:30
It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. — Judy Blume, children's book author
San Francisco, CA, July 25, 2008 — In a first-time collaboration, the San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB) and the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) are presenting the exhibit Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship, opening August 15 in San Francisco and September 5 in Oakland. AAMLO is a division of the Oakland Public Library.
Curated by Hanna Regev, the exhibit features work from more than 60 artists working in a variety of media. With most artists interpreting a banned book of their choice, the project provides a unique forum for visual artists to respond to the suppression of literary art. The exhibit, with different work on display at each location, will run through November 26 in San Francisco and December 31 in Oakland. Participating artists include Enrique Chagoya, Sandow Birk, Mildred Howard, Emory Douglas, Naomie Kremer and many others.
Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship is timed to coincide with Banned Books Week (September 27-October 3), an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). Banned Books Week began in 1982 as a response to challenges and threats posed to intellectual freedom in the United States.
According to Steve Woodall, SFCB artistic director, "As an organization dedicated to free artistic expression and the future of the book as a work of art, we're delighted to be co-hosting this exhibition. In an election year, with the future of the Supreme Court at stake, it is particularly timely, and AAMLO has proved to be an ideal partner in this undertaking."
Books that have been suppressed constitute a shockingly wide selection, ranging from colonial-era novels to acknowledged contemporary classics—books such as Fanny Hill, Tom Sawyer, The Color Purple, and the Harry Potter novels. "What's most troubling," says AAMLO chief curator Rick Moss, "is how arbitrary the process is. In keeping with the missions of our two organizations, we all felt this was the most thought-provoking and appropriate way to explore this issue, while dovetailing with the ALA's 2008 theme 'free people read freely.'"
Curator Hanna Regev works with many Bay Area cultural organizations and art galleries, producing public programs in history, art, and museum practice. Regev serves on the board of the First Amendment Project, and is a past president of the Northern California Council of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Regev's view is that: "Collectively, the work initiates an important undertaking—the recovery of fragments of our censored history. We felt that the pairing of visual and graphic artists with these banned and threatened books was a natural one. After all, what better group to interpret suppressed works than visual artists, who are already so attuned to the threat of censorship. The show is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our freedoms, many of which are being chipped away by the Patriot Act. It is a powerful testament to the irrepressible creative spirit."
Public programs in conjunction with the exhibitions
Four panel discussions have been designed specifically for the exhibit, addressing a variety of topics. All are free to the public.
Sept. 28, 2008 - 2 pm, San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium: Dispelling Dirt: Sex, Gender and Censorship Artists Kara Maria, Nigel Poor, Jan Wurm, and Alejandra Chaverri
Oct. 18, 2008 - 3 pm, AAMLO: Mark Twain and the Censors Victor Fischer, editor Mark Twain papers, Bancroft Library; artist Milton Bowens
Nov. 22, 2008 - 3 pm, AAMLO: Literary Works on Trial Jan Wurm moderator; David Greene, Director, First Amendment Project; artists Richard Kamler, Eileen Moderbacher, Justin Hoover, Barbara Milman
Dec. 6, 2008 - 3 pm, AAMLO: African American Writers and Censorship Jeanne Powell, poet; artists Emory Douglas, Favianna Rodriguez, Bryan Keith Thomas
About My Piece - Artist Statement
My own experiences as a woman of color and daughter of immigrants is also a recurring theme in my work. I was delighted to develop a piece inspired by Alice Walker's acclaimed novel, The Color Purple. What most affected me as a reader was the powerful bond held between the two sisters, Celie and Nettie, a bond that was challenged predominantly by patriarchy. I was informed by the paths that the two sisters took. As an artist, I am constantly exploring the many spaces and roles that we inhabit as women of color, how it is that we exist and flourish within the repressive conditions of our time.
My piece depicts the story of the two sisters and how they sustain their connection to each other, even if the face of extreme hardship. This is similar to the conditions that immigrants live under today. Many families are forced to separate due to the economic conditions of their homelands, and due to the globalized nature of the world economy. Repressive laws and ultimately, racist laws make it even harder for these families to live peacefully, similar to the families in The Color Purple. This piece attempts to capture the experiences of a people in daily struggle, to document their challenges and celebrate their tenacity.
About the Organizers
The San Francisco Center for the Book (SFCB) Book is a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring and encouraging contemporary interpretations of the book as an art object, as well as preserving the traditional art of book-making. The Center provides both a home for Bay Area book artists and a place where the wider community can discover book arts. Location: 300 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Contact: Colleen Stockmann