Banned and Recovered


A traveling exhibit that we will really miss… 

Banned and Recovered: Artists Intervention traveled to three venues between the dates of September 2010 and October 2012, including the Reese Bullen Gallery at Humboldt State University, the University of California, Merced’s Kolligian Library, and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA. The exhibition featured works inspired by books that have been challenged and banned in U.S. schools and libraries and also addressed the real threats to the U.S. Constitution posed by the 2003 U.S. Patriot Act.

Approximately 10,000 visitors enjoyed the exhibition while it was on tour.

Inspired by the exhibit Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship, which was on display at the San Francisco Center for the Book and the African American Museum and Library in Oakland in 2008, Curator Hanna Regev sought out contemporary Bay Area artists to contribute to a similar traveling exhibition. Artists contributed works inspired by 36 titles on the long list of banned and challenged books.

The exhibition was divided into four themes:

  • “Banning Books and the First Amendment at a Crossfire” looked at the act of banning of books as both an attack on, and a serious violation of, freedom of speech and freedom of expression;
  • “Literary Works on Trial” illustrated the significance of ongoing court battles that secure our right to read under the First Amendment’s constitutional guarantees;
  • “Race, Gender and Justice” addressed the artists’ experiences with racism and gender inequalities;
  • “Burning Books: The Extreme Ban” demonstrated that book burnings and the persecution of authors are pervasive, a global phenomena, and an assault on civilization.

Artist contributions included original book art, mixed media pieces, paintings, photographs and multi-media pieces. An audio guide, which included chapters by the curator and multiple contributing artists, was also available to the public as a component of the exhibition.


An exhibition catalog is available at

An interactive website, with information about the artists, pieces of art and exhibition will be continue to be available at:

 Featured Artists:

Jody Alexander

Guillermo Bert

Milton Bowens

Victor Cartagena

Enrique Chagoya

Mitch Confer

Luis Delgado

Emory Douglas

Ala Ebtekar

Rodney Ewing

Clinton Fein

Liz Hager

Justin Hoover

Woody Johnson

Richard Kamler

Lisa Kokin

Barbara Kossy

Naomie Kremer

Jose Ramon Lerma

Malcolm Lubliner

Kara Maria

Mary V. Marsh

Barbara Milman

Eileen Starr Moderbacher

Daniel Newman

Penny Nii

Priscilla Otani

Nigel Poor

Favianna Rodriguez

Joe Sam

Anne Siberell

Sandra Ortiz Taylor

Keith Bryan Thomas

Tanya Wilkinson

Noah Wilson

Jan Wurm

Exhibition Highlights:

Humboldt State University, Reese Bullen Gallery, Arcata, CA

September 23, 2010 – November 6, 2010

Attendance: 1,127 

The exhibition of Banned and Recovered coincided with the University’s annual Campus Dialogue on Race, which provided the Reese Gallery with an opportunity to partner with that event. Gallery Director, Michele McCall-Wallace, noted that the partnership “brought in many new non-art students, staff and faculty from across campus. For some it was the first time they had visited our gallery.” The Reese Gallery also applied for a mini-grant in order to purchase supplies so that students could make their own Art Buttons, which was a great success and “raised awareness about First Amendment rights issues, the exhibit on display and showed off creative art work by the art students at HSU.”

University of California, Merced, Kolligian Library, Merced, CA

January 10, 2011 – February 27, 2011

Attendance: 900

The Kolligian Library hosted and event entitled: “Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Why the Fuss Then and Now,” which brought speakers Milton Bowens (an exhibit artist) and Donald Barclay into the library to discuss “the controversy surrounding the new censored version of Huckleberry Finn” and “the time and culture of the book when it was published and the implications of the censorship.” Joe Ameen, Services Coordinator, noted that visitors remarked, “the exhibit was thought provoking and very well done.”

National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, CA

July 15, 2012 – October 6, 2012

Attendance: 8,024

The Steinbeck Center hosted a gallery talk and tour with the curator of the exhibition, Hanna Regev, and three contributing artists, Enrique Chagoya, Kara Maria, and Salinas native José Ramon Lerma. The artists discussed the inspiration behind their pieces, and as noted by Deborah Silguero, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, the conversation became quite heated, which “made it more fascinating for the patrons.” The exhibition of Banned and Recovered also led to a new partnership between the Steinbeck Center and the Monterey Public Library, which co-hosted the exhibit.

Other Related Events:

Exhibit Closing Reception

A reception was hosted by Exhibit Envoy in October 2012 to thank the artists and Regev for their contributions.  Hosted by Penny Nii at her home in San Francisco, the event featured a silent auction where some of the exhibit artists generously contributed artwork for sale.

Day of the Book, John F. Kennedy University, April 20, 2013

The exhibit continues to draw attention. Curator Hanna Regev and three contributing artists, Milton Bowens, Mary V. Marsh, and Jan Wurm, were invited to participate as a lunchtime panel at JFKU. Regev provided background on challenged books and the artists discussed the the books that inspired their artworks and shared their thoughts on censorship and freedom of expression.


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