No Limits

No Limits

The 38 artists (and handful of groups) that writer and designer Tristan Manco profiles in Raw + Material = Art hail from a dozen different countries, use all manner of skills, and make a remarkable variety of work. Yet they are linked, Manco observes, by an intense “respect for and spirit of investigation in their chosen media.” What investigations they are: Bands of bright color encircle Toyko-based Haroshi’s Apple sculptures, impeccably crafted from stacked skateboard decks. The two horses in U.S.-based Sayaka Ganz’s Emergence charge forward, elegant forms whose bones (indeed, whole beings) are made from reclaimed plastic. There are toy-encrusted pooches (Robert Bradford), drawings made with fireworks (Rosemarie Fiore), and animals created from nothing more than Paris Métro dust (Lionel Sabatté). For his part, Manco’s profiles are sensitive and engaging, stepping beyond basic bios to dig into personalities, techniques, and aspirations. The 400-plus color images finish the job, revealing just how sophisticated and exciting the use of found, scavenged, and upcycled materials has become.  ~Julie K. Hanus

Some of us steeped in the 20th-century studio craft move­ment get a little narrow in our thinking; we view “craft” as bounded by glass, ceramics, metal, wood, and fiber. Made in New York reminds us how broad the world of modern making really is, introducing 50 artisans in disciplines as varied as floral design, neon fabrication, tanning, and shipbuilding, along with a glassblower, metalsmith, and others more typically slotted as craftspeople. Master gilder and embroiderer Nathalie Sann and former advertising executive Ted Sann were moved to produce the book after seeing the dedication of the artisans who restored their centuries-old home on Long Island. Each maker gets an introduction, but the real treasures of the book are the rich, tight process images that bleed off the page – bringing that big, wide handmade world to life.  ~Monica Moses

The premise of the University of Washington’s furniture studio is simple: Architecture students design and build one piece of furniture to learn, on a small scale, about working directly with materials. Furniture Studio documents the outcome of that hands-on challenge – and the legacy of instructor/studio founder Andris Vanags. Author Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, a UW architecture prof, chronicles the final studio Vanags taught before his retirement in 2009, tracking 11 students’ 10-week design, build, and evaluation process (and the sense of calm and understated expertise that Vanags brings to the table). There are profiles of former students, exploring the lasting effect of the class. But perhaps the strongest argument for the impact that materials-based learning and a skilled educator can have is the catalogue of student work during Vanags’ tenure, which delights with page after page of great design and, from so many first-time builders, astonishing skill.  ~Andrew Zoellner