A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was an influential and award-winning sculptor, a beloved figure in the Bay Area art world, and a devoted activist who advocated tirelessly for arts education. This lushly illustrated book by collage artist Andrea D'Aquino brings Asawa's creative journey to life, detailing the influence of her childhood in a farming family, and her education at Black Mountain College where she pursued an experimental course of education with leading avant-garde artists and thinkers such as Anni and Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Rauschenberg. Delightful and substantial, this engaging title for young art lovers includes a page of teaching tools for parents and educators.
Andrea D'Aquino is an artist and author. Her previous books include an illustrated edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Once Upon a Piece of Paper. Her work appears in magazines and newspapers around the world. She lives in New York City.
"D'Aquino showcases how Asawa's curiosity and handiwork, set amidst charcoal and colored-pencil drawings and mixed-paper collages, carried her into adulthood, where her creative talent began to receive praise and attention. Through this picture-book contribution, not only will Asawa's art reach a new audience, but her artistic practice will inspire the next generation of creative minds to express themselves with handmade art. A worthwhile addition to picture-book collections everywhere". - Booklist
Andrea D'Aquino introduces us to Asawa as a little girl who spends her time looking closely at the world and making things with whatever was at hand. 'What a fascinating shape your shell is, Snail,' she has Ruth say. D'Aquino nicely connects the imaginative life of the child with the professional artist she became. This is reinforced in the illustrations, which are a playful combination of pencil drawings and collage with a loose and spontaneous feel. I first saw Asawa's luminous wire sculptures a few years ago, and I was struck by how beautifully D'Aquino's renderings capture the spirit of Asawa's work. - The New York Times Book Review.
I admit that I hadn't heard of Ruth Asawa before reading this picture book—which is kind of why books like this are so important. It's a lovely book. - GeekDad
D'Aquino offers young readers 'the story of an artist you may have never heard of': Ruth Asawa (1926-2013), a Japanese American creator of nature-inspired wire sculptures. A third-person text effectively uses occasional imagined quotations from young Ruth to convey the sense of curiosity and wonder at the natural world that would later define this artist. Throughout the narrative, there's also an emphasis on the handmade—from a childhood spent on a farm to her studies at Black Mountain College to learning basket-weaving from a local craftsperson in Mexico, which would inspire her woven-wire sculptures. The book's illustrations, too, evoke the handmade; charcoal and colored-pencil drawings are combined with hand-painted and monoprinted paper in distinctive, naive-style collages. - The Horn Book Magazine
D'Aquino's illustrations utilize charcoal, colored pencil, and collage with beautiful muted colors and whimsical designs. D'Aquino also includes illustrated instructions on how to create a paper dragonfly, a great activity for storytime. - School Library Journal
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