Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings

Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings

by Susan Goldman Rubin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A fascinating exploration of the healing power of art.

Children and adults alike find comfort in making things, but never has the act of creating been so poignant as when it is done during times of duress, such as in concentration camps and prisons, during extreme drought and poverty, or while battling mental illness.

In this fascinating collection,

Overview

A fascinating exploration of the healing power of art.

Children and adults alike find comfort in making things, but never has the act of creating been so poignant as when it is done during times of duress, such as in concentration camps and prisons, during extreme drought and poverty, or while battling mental illness.

In this fascinating collection, Susan Goldman Rubin has captured the essence of creating as a way to momentarily escape horrible circumstances. From the drawings of a child imprisoned in Terezin to quilts created by slave women in the United States, history repeatedly shows us people finding solace in crafting beautiful things.

This striking introduction to outsider art is illustrated in full color with examples from each time period.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
The subject of this book is "outsider art," a term that describes self-taught, isolated, artists who created potent images with no thought of sharing them publicly. Outsider artists cover a huge range: holocaust camp children, prisoners, institutionalized insane, generations of poor women who stitched amazing quilts in Gee's Bend, Alabama, and even a Kenyan child who makes play toys despite the devastation which surrounds him. There are lots of outsider artists and many of them are prolific. That is why this book fails. It has all the stories, but because it is only 40-plus pages long, it has the feeling of an abridged non-fiction narrative. The peeks at these people and samplings of art are so poignant, you long for more. Perhaps these vignettes will to send young adults searching for fuller stories, but I wish the author had provided them. 2004, Crown, and Ages 10 up.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-An engaging survey of outsider art, encompassing the works of patients, slaves, concentration- and internment-camp prisoners, and disadvantaged children living in modern blighted urban areas and developing nations. Each chapter focuses on one of these groups and includes both black-and-white and full-color photographs of the drawings, collages, paintings, toys, and quilts described in the text. The vivid, resilient life force radiating from these works contrasts sharply with the unimaginably bleak conditions under which they were created. Although Rubin does not shrink from detailing the casual violence of a modern ghetto or the cruelty of life in a Civil War prison camp, neither does she let it overshadow the vibrance and quality of the art that emerged from them. She merely makes the very cogent, inspiring argument that under inhumane circumstances, people are moved to protect and nurture their humanity in whatever way they can. Rubin has emphasized works by child artists, which lends a pleasing, egalitarian subtext to the whole. If young slaves can quilt maps to freedom, and girls in concentration camps can draw moving accounts of their lives, the book seems to say, then you can, too. Indeed, this artwork may speak more directly to some readers than the works on display in fine-arts museums. Back matter includes an excellent set of print references (those appropriate for younger readers are marked) as well as a good selection of links to blessedly stable URLs. This unique offering is a top priority for most libraries.-Sophie R. Brookover, Mount Laurel Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Outsider" art-that made by prisoners, the mentally ill, children, and women-form Rubin's subject, and she handles it fairly well in so small a volume. She aims her text at middle-graders, and the writing is not always smooth, however, she tackles a lot in four chapters. All self-taught, the subjects include the art of Henry Darger and Adolf Woffli, both schizophrenics; art made by those imprisoned, including convicts, children in concentration camps and in Japanese internment in the US during WWII; quilts made by slaves and by free women as narrative and symbol; and art made by young people from the South Bronx to Uganda. While she does make clear how art can be made in the harshest of circumstances, she doesn't address head-on the obvious need for human beings to make art no matter how desperate or squalid the situation. Many illustrations prove the one-picture/thousand-words equation. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375824067
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
03/09/2004
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
8.31(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION
In life people take risks and strive to accomplish goals even though the chances, or odds, of success are slight. This book looks at children and adults who felt compelled to make different kinds of art despite living under the most awful conditions—imprisonment, war, poverty, racism, and illness. In other words, they created art "against the odds." They felt an inner urge to express themselves, not always thinking of their work as art. Yet others perceived it as such. These artists escaped into their art as they created and, in the process, found relief and pleasure.

Many of them had little or no training. Or encouragement. They had to scrounge for materials. Even though they were locked out of the mainstream, they produced works of art that convey powerful emotions of joy and anger, and even reflect a sense of humor. Many of these artworks have historical significance as well. The artists may be unknown or forgotten, but their works live on.

Meet the Author

Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of Fireflies in the Dark; Margaret Bourke-White; Degas and the Dance; Steven Spielberg: Crazy for Movies; and numerous other nonfiction books for children.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >