Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui
By Alison Goldberg
Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
"If you touch something, you leave a charge on it and anybody else touching it connects with you, in a way." -- El Anatsui
El Anatsui has always written his own story. As an art student at the University of Ghana, El noticed that the artists and styles he was studying were grounded in European traditions. Curious about his own culture's art history, El observed his people and found stories in the fabrics they wore and the way they used recycled goods. He decided to tell these stories through his artwork.
El experimented with different mediums--firing broken clay into new pots and cutting wood intosculptures using a chainsaw. Each time El tried something new, he brought with him the experience of all the experiments he did before. After coming across a discarded bag of shimmering bottle tops, El wondered What was their story? He experimented with the new material--disassembling, flattening, and reshaping--then stitched the tops together with wire. The result were large, flowing tapestries that tell stories about history, culture, and link people together. Today, El's bottle top sculptures are showcased all over the world inspiring audiences everywhere.
Here is the captivating story of a Ghanaian sculptor whose passion, creativity, and awe-inspiring artwork reminds us that creating powerful art is about being true to yourself.
About the Creators
Alison Goldberg is a writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the author of I Love You for Miles and Miles. She blogs about activism in children's literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison first learned about El Anatsui's work while studying art in Ghana in 1995 and has sought opportunities to see his sculptures ever since. You can visit her online at alisongoldberg.com.
Elizabeth Zunon earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006, and since then she has been illustrating books, as well as making jewelry and handbags. Zunon grew up in Ivory Coast, West Africa, but now lives in Albany, New York.