Sunday, November 15, 2009

Banned Book Project - The Chocolate War

Just a few more finishing touches for my banned book project for the Kirkland Library.

I brushed over the brown acrylic paint with a gloss gel to make it shinny.

Also attached a knob to the lid [upside down plastic fruit bowl]; added a rim of "chocolate inside the rim as it has cracked, and to cover up said cracks [artists have to think on their feet - correct accidents] I attached a few crumpled gold candy wrappers...

Last thing I want to do is add words - why it was banned - to the cover around the base...

Here is my artist statement about the challenged book The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier:

My project for Kirkland Library’s Banned Book is Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War. This is a definitive coming of age book with a location set at a Catholic all boys’ high school. Coming to gripes with maturation, the power struggle between seniors and lowly freshmen, students between teachers, and even teachers between teachers creates an undertone that is absorbing and frightening at the same time. Could these situations actually exist? How would you deal with them?

The typical reasons for banning this book are: offensive/foul language; sexual situations/obscene references; portrayal of violence; blatantly graphic descriptions; degrading treatment of women; gangs/peer pressure; and fostering disrespect in the classroom/negative impressions of authority, school systems, and of religious schools.

In reading The Chocolate War, you are drawn to the main character, Jerry; empathizing with the recent death of his mother; being uprooted from familiar surroundings; the struggle of his father to just get through every day while closing down emotionally to his son; and the uneasiness and challenges of being a freshman at a new school with no support system of friends/family.

My concern is that parents have forgotten what its like to young, hormonal and facing the mountains that later, in retrospect, are mere mole hills. Parents may also be in denial that their children: are exposed to or use offensive language; are physically maturing and may be sexually active; still see many images of women as objects in our society; succumb to peer pressure [a powerful motivator] at this point in their development; are starting to break away from family control, question values and need to experience life their own way by taking risks…

Rather than challenge and ban - this story can bring up a strong dialogue about these issues and how to deal with life’s inconsistencies. Everything is not always wonderful or situations end up as we envision them. Life is short; changes in family, friends, school, jobs, etc., are swift and often painful; and unfortunately there are mean spirited or violent people in the world.

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