When El Anatsui was a teenager, his home, a British colony, became the independent country of Ghana. “We could decide to do things on our own terms,” comments the artist, with the shift reflected in his outside-the-box creativity and changing old materials into something new. This striking book, vividly illustrated in paint and cut-paper collage, showcases Anatsui’s signature works: flowing tapestries made from deconstructed bottle tops. Goldberg describes the artist’s early life and artistry and then focuses on how he executes his famous fabrics, which have been exhibited in museums worldwide. As well as learning about Anatsui’s art, readers can gain here some important insights into the creative life—Goldberg emphasizes that Anatsui doesn’t work alone; a team gets the bottle tops into their new forms. It is also instructive to learn that the artist (who reviewed Goldberg’s text) isn’t always sure how to proceed artistically or that the results will be popular. Best of all, readers will find out that nobody in this man’s town was an artist, but he still found his way to success. Robust back matter includes source notes, citations for quotes, and an art activity. Use this excellent biography alongside Shelley Pearsall’s The Seventh Most Important Thing (2016) in units on found-object art; it also deserves a place on public library shelves.
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The Horn Book