“Maurice” is one of forty large fiberglass animals decorated by local Artists for the The Lions and Tigers and BEARS oh my! Project created to raise awareness of the importance of public art in Greater Lafayette, Indiana, and helps support the Art Museum’s many educational activities and programs. These animals were on display in Lafayette and West Lafayette all Summer long in 2015.
Kirby Risk generously sponsors Maurice for permanent residence at the entrance to the children's reading room at the Tippecanoe County Library downtown.
“Maurice” the bear is a tribute to Maurice Sendak who illustrated or wrote over 80 children's books.
Sendak's 1963 Caldecott winner and revolutionary “Where the Wild Things Are” is his best known book where the main character, a boy named Max, acts like a real child. Sendak accurately portrayed the tricky emotions kids have. “It is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.” Sendak said. This is what made him so appealing and his books revolutionary in children's literature. He was also wonderfully funny and mischievous.
This bear features characters from eleven of Sendak's books. On the bear you will find Max exploring and taming some wild things; Mickey flying in a plane made of dough over the three bakers 'In the Night Kitchen'; Ida watching her baby sister from 'Outside Over There'; Little bear and his Mother bear along with four of his friends; Little Bear flying to the Moon; 'Hector Protector'; 'The Nutcracker' and three dancing mice; A turtle cooking a pot of 'Chicken Soup With Rice' under the sea; The sailor and sea monster from the nursery rhyme 'As I went over the Water'; and two of Sendak's beloved dogs—Jennie, the Sealyham Terrier and his German Shepherd.
There is also a parade of characters from the only mural Sendak painted back in 1961 on a wall in a child's bedroom. The Polar bear is from his last book published posthumously titled, "My Brother's Book" which is for his brother, Jack who also wrote children's books and inspired Maurice. On the tail is a little illustration of a circus acrobat balancing a caped dog which is from an ealy book, "Circus Girl" written by Jack and illustrated by Maurice.