"The Giving Tree," "Where the Wild Things Are," "Winnie the Pooh" — all of these childhood classics were not always universally cherished. They were once considered controversial and contentious and were banned as a result. But from now until Sept. 29, the Chapel Hill Public Library, Chapel Hill Community Arts and Culture and Arts Everywhere are bringing together local artists to raise awareness of censorship with Banned Books Pop-Up Gallery.
Situated at a storefront on Franklin Street, the gallery — called Gallery 109 after its address — is nestled between the Hemp Store and the much-anticipated book café, Epilogue. A sign greets people walking along the Franklin Street sidewalk. Every day until Sept. 29, from noon until 6, the doors lie propped open. Original artwork and banned book trading cards wait for visitors inside.
In the gallery’s first three days, over 400 passersby have become patrons by stepping inside and observing the art. Daniel Siler, the marketing and communications manager for the Chapel Hill Public Library, said on the opening night alone, the gallery welcomed in over 200 people, even during a UNC football game.
“We’re seeing a very nice, steady stream of people who are otherwise engaged in whatever it is they are doing on their weekend,” Siler said. “We’re creating an opportunity for them to suddenly have a thoughtful arts experience that maybe they didn’t see coming.”
This gallery is part of Chapel Hill Public Library’s celebration of Banned Books Week. This national event addresses threats of censorship and the freedom to read. Chapel Hill Public Library specifically celebrates this week by enlisting the work of local artists and featuring their work on trading cards.