Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui
By Alison Goldberg and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
We are thrilled to reveal the cover of our forthcoming picture book, Bottle Tops: The Art of El Anatsui, releasing from Lee & Low Books on May 31, 2022!
About Bottle Tops
Bottle Tops tells the story of contemporary Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and how he transforms discarded materials into vibrant and extraordinary art.
Bottle Tops follows El’s journey as a student in Ghana to Nigeria, where he taught and became an internationally-exhibiting artist. Over decades, El experimented with a variety of materials that connected to the people around him. He built sculptures from broken pots, milk can tin lids, and driftwood. When he found a bag of old bottle tops in the bushes, he used them to begin a series of enormous, shimmering tapestries that were unlike anything people had ever seen.
Our introductions to El Anatsui’s work
Alison: I first saw El’s artwork while studying in Ghana in 1995, and I’ve sought opportunities to see it ever since. Many of his awe-inspiring sculptures are pieced together from small aluminum bottle tops. The material evokes his environment, and linked together, the bottle tops tell stories about history and culture. When I look at El’s art, I’m reminded that creating powerful art is about being true to yourself. I hope that learning about El’s story inspires young people to seek unique ways to tell their own stories.
Elizabeth: I first saw El’s work while visiting the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with my brother and our mom in 2016. I initially thought those pieces on exhibit were Kente fabrics, and didn’t realize until a closer look that they were made up of little metal pieces from bottle caps. I was mesmerized by the technique and the amount of time it must have taken to create such monumental art. Investigating El’s artistic processes inspired me to re-think my own art-making techniques and what is possible.
Order from our local indie bookstores, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA and The Little Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY.
Author and illustrator bios:
Alison Goldberg is a writer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the author of I Love You for Miles and Miles. She blogs about activism in children’s literature and loves researching everything from marine life to contemporary art for her books. Alison first learned about El Anatsui’s work while studying art in Ghana in 1995 and has sought opportunities to see his sculptures ever since. You can visit her online at alisongoldberg.com
Elizabeth Zunon earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration degree at the Rhode Island School of Design and has illustrated many books for children, including Lee & Low Books’s Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes. Zunon spent her childhood in Ivory Coast, West Africa, and now lives in Albany, New York, where she was born. Zunon was inspired by both the fragility and the strength of El Anatsui’s works and created the illustrations for Bottle Tops with paint and cut paper collage. You can visit her online at lizzunon.com.
Learn more about El Anatsui
Visit El Anatsui’s website to learn more about El Anatsui and see images of his artwork.