Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America
Edited by Kristin Schwain and Josephine Stealey
Schiffer Publishing, $40
Dating back more than 10,000 years, baskets are among the most essential and versatile of objects. For those who appreciate the basket’s role in history, domestic life, education, therapy, and fine art, there is this lovely, sweeping book.
Rooted, Revived, Reinvented takes its name from an exhibition that opened in 2017 at the University of Missouri and is slated to travel through 2019. If there’s a thread that runs through the book, it’s how industrialization has transformed the presence and the meaning of the basket.
Nine meaty essays provide context. Four examine basketmaking traditions: in the Native American South, the South Carolina Lowcountry, Brown County, Indiana, and Nantucket Island. The others consider the basket’s emergence in studio craft, the art world, and cultural commentary. More than 250 color images trace the evolution of the basket from humble vessel to sculptural form.
Baskets accompanied much of human history. As this book makes plain, in forms more or less recognizable, they endure. ~Monica Moses
Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self
By Manoush Zomorodi
St. Martin’s Press, $27
Boredom has become almost extinct. We’re never without a distraction: a scroll through social media, the latest app game. Activities that used to clear our heads – waiting for the bus or walking to the subway – offer no respite; we just take our online worlds with us.
In her book Bored and Brilliant, Manoush Zomorodi, the host of WNYC radio’s podcast Note to Self, examines what our new, always-entertained lifestyles have cost us. Her central premise is simple enough: Boredom is a gift, a chance for the mind to let thoughts come naturally. It is something that creative people, in this day and age, need to protect.
The book features people who have come to celebrate the lulls in their lives – a Guggenheim security guard whose long shifts let him develop a deep relationship with the art, for example – but it also has challenges for readers to try: Put away the phone during the morning commute, or go a day without taking any photos. A claim that seems counterintuitive at the start convinces by the end. Distraction is easy. Boredom is better. ~Robert O’connell
A Passion for China: A Little Book About the Objects We Eat From, Live With and Love
By Molly Hatch
September Publishing, $20
“The patterned ceramic objects we live with are precious witnesses to our stories,” says ceramist and designer Molly Hatch. In A Passion for China, she serves as an ideal storyteller.
A mix of personal narrative and historical context, the book covers Hatch’s family history through beloved objects, her journey as an artist, and information about design.
Hatch called on family members to share photos and memories, such as how a set of Royal Crown Derby dinner plates met its tragic end, lovingly packed in a 5-gallon bucket. Endearing anecdotes like these, along with her charming illustrations, make the book intimate, personal, and memorable. It’s almost as if the reader is sharing stories with Hatch over a cup of tea – perhaps in a Hatch favorite, like the one with that pesky hand-painted rooster. ~Elizabeth Ryan