Bottle Tops

By Publishers Weekly

Fascinated with the artistic and political potential of turning discarded objects and scrap into art, Ghanaian artist El Anatsui (b. 1944) incorporates “materials with a history” into his work, as detailed in this process-oriented picture book. Following his country’s independence from Britain, Anatsui finds a torn garbage bag filled with bottle caps, “shining silver, red, yellow, and blue,” and discovers that by disassembling them, flattening the bands into strips, and then connecting the strips and the circular tops, he can create huge swathes of material that visually favor traditional kente cloths. Resembling “an enormous, shimmering cloth” (one piece is 30 feet tall), El’s work tells stories of colonialism, interpersonal contact, and resilience—and takes the art world by storm. In straightforward prose, Goldberg weaves a story of art and ingenuity about an artist who “has always written his own story.” Zunon’s richly hued paint and collage art, meanwhile, chronicles both the excitement and slow work of creating a wholly new artistic medium. Back matter includes an author’s note and an art activity.