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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois, words by Amy Novesky and pictures by Isabelle Arsenault. Abrams. 2016. $22.95 ages 8 and up

"Among tapestries neatly stacked like books in a library, Louise's mother taught her daughter about form and color and the various styles of textiles. Some bore elaborate patterns; others told stories. She taught her about the warp and the weft, and how to weave. The tools of their trade: spiral-shaped spindles, spools of wool, and a needle."

Today, two books today about artists. Louise Bourgeois, of French and American heritage, was born into a family of restorers - of tapestries. As she watched her mother work diligently at the work she loved to do, Louise noted her great love and patience. In fact, she imagined her mother a spider, with each of the traits that make them so unique.

"She loved to work in the warm sun, her needle rising and falling beside the lilting river, perfect, delicate spiderwebs glinting with caught drops of water above her."

Louise lived a creative life filled with drama and often sadness. She learned the art of restoration at her mother's side, starting when she was 12. Her father did not work with tapestries, and was often absent. A move to Paris led to mathematical studies. She loved the order inherent in the work she was doing. While there studying her mother died suddenly, leaving Louise without her best friend.

She then applied all that she had learned so far to her art. It led to sculpture and her concentration on spiders made from varied materials - bronze, steel, and marble. Spiders reminded her again of her mother - "a repairer of broken things.'  She continued working ...

"With the remaining fabric of her life,
Louise wove together a cloth lullaby.
She wove the river that raised her -
Maternal pinks, blues in watery hues.
She wove a mother sewing in the sun,
A girl falling asleep beneath the stars,
And everything she ever loved."

And speaking of artists - Isabelle Arsenault uses all of her many magnificent talents in mixed media collages to fully complement Amy Novesky's exquisite language and bring attention to the color, scope and influences that dominate Ms. Bourgeois' life's work.

An author's note is included, as well as archival photographs, quotes and sources.

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