The Big Read Blog (Archive)


May 28, 2009
Pomona, CA

This spring California's Cal Poly Pomona Foundation put on a Big Read of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The foundation teamed with the city's library and cultural arts commission to make The Big Read part of the city's 2nd Annual Chalk Art Festival through a student art contest. Here's a bit from library staffer Pat Lambert on the project:

The [original] idea for the [chalk art] festival came about because of the large number of public art events that have been cropping up in southern California in recent years. Our climate lends itself to such events, and this was a good fit given the strong arts community in our downtown area. Our library director, Greg Shapton, and Jonnie Owens from the Cal Poly Downtown Center served on the planning committee for last year's festival, and they suggested a Big Read tie-in to increase participation and awareness of The Big Read in our community.

The artwork was developed by student art teams from local schools consisting of three to four people. There were more than 300 participants in the event, with about 100 art displays. About 25 of the displays were tied to The Big Read. The students created grid drawings, using them as a basis for their sidewalk creations.

Thanks to photographers Delana Martin, Debra Martin, and Danelle Assanelli, here are some views from the event -- with commentary by yours truly.

A look inside the artists' ?studio.? I love that Harper Lee is everywhere in this photo!

I really like the mythological quality of this one and the way the central figure is at once unified and divided. The bird reminds me of a Native American depiction of a raven, which is both a trickster and a creator. It brings to mind the childhood innocence of Jem, Scout, and Dill and the growing up they are forced to do.

I love the ominous shadow behind the mockingbird: Does it represent Boo Radley? Is it Bob Ewell? Is it the poverty caused by the Depression or the period's institutionalized racism? It captures the way that Jem's broken arm hovers over the entire story though we don't find out how it happened until the novel's closing pages.

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