A Life Made by Hand

A Life Made by Hand, The Story of Ruth Asawa, written and illustrated by Andrea D’Aquino.

I am extremely grateful for the recent publication of several non-fiction books about artists. Especially those books which highlight the work of lesser known visionaries, yet artists’ whose work has contributed and influenced the Art-world in significant and meaningful ways. Better yet— I am excited to see such attention paid to women and marginalized artists.

This beautifully illustrated picture book introduces us to the Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa (1926-2013). Ruth was always fascinated by nature and she enjoyed creating shapes from found objects on the farm she grew up on in California.

Andrea D’Aquino playfully combines various printing techniques and collage which mimic Ruth Asawa’s combinations of mixed media in her sculpture.

The story follows Ruth to her time at Black Mountain College where she was inspired and influenced by many well-known contemporary artists.

We also learn that Ruth was taught to weave from a craftsperson in Mexico and mastering this skill enabled her to create her massive and awe-inspiring woven wire sculptures.

I’ve been trying to feature picture books by artists who haven’t received the name recognition of their peers. It’s so important that young readers are inspired by learning more about the creative process and what fuel’s an artist’s passion to create works of art.

The back of the book contains information about Ruth Asawa’s internment at a Japanese detainment center during the war. It is noted, however, that this part of Ruth’s life did not overshadow the creation of her art.

The back-matter of the book also offers a step by step tutorial for making your own dragonfly sculpture out of paper.

A Life Made by Hand is a book that I wish that I had to read when I was young. Luckily, I’m able to enjoy them now, and I hope that young creatives are inspired to pursue and express their unique artistic gifts.

Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Jennifer is the illustrator and author of several acclaimed picture books. Most recently is Always by My Side, 'A Stuffie Story', which she wrote and illustrated. She also is both the author and illustrator of Playing Possum, and Blue Ethel. Jennifer illustrated Gondra’s Treasure, written by Newbery award winner Linda Sue Park. As well as, Sometimes You Fly, by Newbery medalist, Katherine Applegate. She illustrated Yaks Yak, Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, The Inventor's Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford, by Suzanne Slade, Rabbi Benjamin's Buttons, by Alice B. McGinty, and The Adventures of a South Pole Pig, by Chris Kurtz.


  1. What a beautiful book. I love stories of artists. Congrats Andrea! Thanks for sharing this Jennifer.

  2. Her work and her life are so interesting. I am delighted that there is a book so Ruth will be more accessible to readers of all ages!

    Because I had read this book earlier in the year, I was super excited to see one of her works in the “Women Take the Floor” exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts!

  3. What a fascinating story! I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  4. This looks like a beautiful book. It is always inspiring to read about the creative processes and journeys of artists…especially lesser known and /or female. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Such a lovely book with heart!

  6. You just introduced me to a wonderful artist…. thanks!

  7. Thank you for sharing this wonderful book on creativity.

  8. We need more stories about artists, especially women artists.

  9. Ty for sharing this amazing book and artist with us! I’m excited to reading Ruth’s story and learning more. I enjoy the discovery of the lesser known artists too.

  10. Thank you for this. I love stories about artists and the making of a creative life.

  11. Jennifer, you always feature the most beautiful, visually arresting books. They’re a treat for the eyeballs. Thank you! 🙂

Comments are closed