I had a pretty exciting challenge given to me. Take a book that has appeared on a list of banned books somewhere in this country, and reinterpret the cover to be displayed as part of a silent auction for the Kurt Vonnegut Library’s Banned Books Week event. How would I as an artist recreate that cover, what would be different, and how could I add my own spin while keeping the content of the book intact. This is no easy feat for any artist.
I decided I would use one of my favorite books growing up — Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The story of a mischievous Max who sails from his room to the island of the Wild Things. Most of us know this story, and I think a lot of us identified with Max at some point (I mean, who didn’t dream of sailing away from their room). I find it fascinating that this book would ever be banned. Whoever put it on the list must have never actually read it. Max isn’t a young demon worshipper, nor is he a devil child. He is merely a kid being a kid doing what kids do — making mischief of one kind and another.
It’s a book that not only says “Go on and dream”, but also says “It’s okay. You’re just doing what a kid is supposed to do. Make sense of a world as you see it.” It’s because of this that I decided to throw my hand in to #bannedbooksweek. There is a lot of great art from recreations of Judy Blume, to Orwell to Vonnegut (seriously, at the Vonnegut Library no less). It makes me feel like I’m participating in some great part of my city, becoming a part of a great community of artists, and honing my craft a little bit every day.
It feels good to be making something. I may even be playing the bass!
For more information on Banned Books Week at The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library and information on other participating artists, please read Artists celebrate Banned Books Week by redesigning covers of favorite texts, a photo essay by Shari Rudavsky.