Smart List - 08/18/22

Influential Designer + Artist Biographies

3 min

By Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman

The Smart List is a monthly list of multi-media recommendations on everything design, curated by Interwoven Design. In this issue we share biographies of designers and artists who changed their respective industries with their vision and drive. If you are looking for some creative inspiration, any of these books is a wonderful place to start.

The Smart List: Influential Designer + Artist Biographies
The Smart List: Influential Designer + Artist Biographies

Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa

by Marilyn Chase

Ruth Asawa was an American sculptor in the modern style and is best known for her hanging wire sculptures, which are featured in the most exclusive museums in the world, and her powerful urban installations. She spent her childhood in World War II Japanese-American interment camps, going on to study arts at Black Mountain College, the famously innovative liberal arts school in rural North Carolina. The high quality photography and artwork reproduced for this edition make it more than a compelling life story. KQED Arts wrote of Chase’s work, “Everything She Touched reveals the emotional life and personal trials of a social pathbreaker and civic leader. Author Marilyn Chase connects the barbed wire and dispossession of Asawa’s early life to the artist’s transformative approach to spooled metal, and intimately conveys the teeming creative life inside her home studio as it filled with six children.”

We Flew Over the Bridge: Memoirs of Faith Ringgold

by Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is a painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, teacher, and writer known for the painted and story quilts that blend her diverse skills into a unique art form. She is also lauded for her own award winning children’s books as well as her vivid and engaging illustrations for the books of others. In We Flew Over the Bridge Ringgold shares a life story full of struggle and prejudice as well as triumph and love. Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer summarizes the underlying theme beautifully; “Bridging is the major motif of Ringgold’s life. . . . She is a bridge between the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. She is a bridge between her mother’s applied art of fashion design and her own fine art of painting and story quilts. She is a bridge between the black power movement and the women’s movement. And she is a bridge between the abstract art that dominated the ‘60s and the issue-oriented art that connected with viewers’ hearts—and lives.”

Diane Arbus

by Patricia Bosworth

Diane Arbus was an American photographer known for her controversial photos of marginalized populations, including carnival performers, nudists, those with dwarfism, strippers, and middle-class families. She was especially interested in capturing people who were actively creating their own identities, and in capturing them in their own environments. Her ambitious and highly productive career is overshadowed by her suicide in 1971, and Bosworth captures the complexity and intensity of her life in this comprehensive biography.

Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art

by Mary Gabriel

Ninth Street Women chronicles five iconic women who made a space for themselves in the overwhelmingly male-dominated space of twentieth-century abstract painting. Gabriel presents vivid portraits of each artist, outlining just why their work is so groundbreaking. This is five biographies for the price of one, and provides an excellent scaffolding for understanding the core dynamics of abstract modern art. Ann Landi of the Wall Street Journal praised the portraits; “Ninth Street Women is like a great, sprawling Russian novel, filled with memorable characters and sharply etched scenes. It’s no mean feat to breathe life into five very different and very brave women, none of whom gave a whit about conventional mores. But Ms. Gabriel fleshes out her portraits with intimate details, astute analyses of the art and good old-fashioned storytelling.”

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