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Fantasy art contest winners announced

From Earthsea to Fantasy: A Literary & Visual Exploration of the Genre, part of the Pioneer Library System The Big Read celebration, is currently on display through May 22 at MAINSITE Contemporary Art in downtown Norman. Please visit the gallery Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as we celebrate the conclusion of The Big Read 2015.

2nd Friday Art Walk logoThe Pioneer Library System has announced the winners for the fantasy art contest coinciding with The Big Read 2015: A Wizard of Earthsea.

The winning works, as well as other entries in the contest, have been invited to take part in an exhibit at Norman’s MAINSITE Contemporary Art Gallery. The opening reception takes place during The Big Read Finale at 6 p.m. Friday, May 8, as part of the Norman Arts Council's 2nd Friday Art Walk. Winners will receive their cash awards at 7 p.m. as part of the event.

Winning entries are:

  • Student category (ages 8 to 18) – Asha Chidambaram and Adriana Fuentez
  • Adult category – Alyssa Pence and Jeremy Fowler-Lindemulder
  • PLS employees – Galyn Hembree and Shalla Strider
  • People's Choice - Jerry Bennett

The contest was judged by MAINSITE Gallery curator and Norman Arts Council Executive Director, Erinn Gavaghan, who evaluated the works without knowing the artists's names.

In addition to the contest pieces, the exhibit also will feature creations by professional artists AK Westerman and Patrick Riley.

The Big Read logoThe Big Read is funded by grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Norman Arts CouncilOklahoma Humanities Council, the Anne and Henry Zarrow FoundationFriends of the Norman Public Library and the Pioneer Library System Foundation.

Scholars look at “A Wizard of Earthsea” in panel discussion

The Big Read logo Take a deeper look into the world of “Earthsea” as several scholars gather for a discussion of “A Wizard of Earthsea,” the featured novel in The Big Read for 2015. The presentation takes place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at 555 Elm Avenue on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.

This year’s novel is the first fantasy novel selected during the nine years of The Big Read participation by PLS. Bringing their expertise on various aspects of the novel and the fantasy genre in general will be:

  • Dr. Charles Kimball, Presidential Professor and Director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma, an expert analyst on the intersection of religion and politics in the U.S.
  • Deborah Chester, author of more than 40 novels and a tenured professor of professional writing in OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication
  • Matthew Price, co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics, Features Editor for The Oklahoman, and writer of the blog “Nerdage

In addition to this panel discussion, there are opportunities to discuss “A Wizard of Earthsea” at each of the 11 PLS libraries during special book discussion events.

The Big Read is funded by grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Norman Arts CouncilOklahoma Humanities Council, the Anne and Henry Zarrow FoundationFriends of the Norman Public Library and the Pioneer Library System Foundation.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael Chabon to Visit

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael ChabonCentral Oklahoma book lovers will have three opportunities to meet Pulitzer-Prize winning author Michael Chabon. Pioneer Library System (PLS) and PLS Foundation will host the celebrated  novelist at a private reception and two public presentations. Chabon’s visit is in conjunction with The Big Read, a community-wide effort to encourage reading.

Chabon’s visit begins with  a private reception Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $100. Proceeds benefit the PLS Foundation and the 11 branch libraries of the Pioneer Library System. For ticket information call 405-801-4511 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chabon will present two free public lectures on Thursday, March 26.  At 10 am he will speak at Oklahoma Baptist University in the Geiger Center auditorium, 500 W. University St., Shawnee.  Then, at 7 pm he will speak at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in Norman. Chabon will take questions and sign books at both events. 

Read more: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Michael Chabon to Visit

An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin
Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch

Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is arguably the most widely admired American fantasy novel of the past 50 years. The book's elegant diction, geographical sweep, and mounting suspense are quite irresistible. Earthsea-composed of an archipelago of many islands-is a land of the imagination, like Oz, Faerie, or the dream-like realm of our unconscious.

Earthsea may not be a "real" world but it is one that our souls recognize as meaningful and "true:' Actions there possess an epic grandeur, a mythic resonance that we associate with romance and fairy tale.

Songs, poems, runes, spells-words matter a great deal in Earthsea, especially those in the "Old Speech" now spoken only by dragons and wizards. To work a spell one must know an object or person's "true name," which is nothing less than that object or person's fundamental essence. In Earthsea, to know a person's true name is to gain power over him or her. "A mage;' we are told, "can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly:'

Understanding the nature of things, not possessing power over them, is the ultimate goal of magic. Indeed, the greatest wizards do all they can to avoid using their skill. They recognize that the cosmos relies on equilibrium, appropriateness, and "balance"-the very name Earthsea suggests such balance-and that every action bears consequences. To perform magic, then, is to take on a heavy responsibili­ ty: One literally disturbs the balance of the universe.

Read more: An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of six Earthsea Cycle titles.

The novel shares the story of Ged, the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, who was known as "Sparrowhawk" as a reckless youth. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the exciting tale of his journey to manhood as he masters the words of power, tames a dragon, and restores balance to the world.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Look for more information about the 2015 Big Read events and programs coming to your hometown library.