Friday, July 12, 2024

Alex Kittle’s September zine on artist Ruth Asawa.

Arlington’s Alex Kittle is a projectionist at The Brattle Theater whose work isn’t limited to moving images. In a zine called “Art is Doing: The Life and Work of Ruth Asawa” (published in September), Kittle blends research and illustrations into a charming zine – small enough to be  bound with a single thread, but packed with lifelike drawings and a striking biography – that contextualizes Asawa’s recent spike in popularity with a life marked by political pressures and geographical restrictions.

A Japanese-American, Asawa (1926-2013) was interned with her family in 1942 at the age of 16. She went on to study with Black Mountain College instructors such as Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller and became known for her enigmatic and experimental looped wire sculptures. Floating from image to text, Kittle dives deftly into the big and small moments of Asawa’s working life – conjuring vivid pictures of what it’s like to mother six children while working (“I’m used to noise and confusion and hard work”) to mentoring other artists at the Alvarado School Arts workshop.

Particularly noteworthy is Kittle’s handling of Asawa’s legacy and misrepresentation, rejecting explanations that glibly center her ethnicity. The book is whimsical yet studied, with the energy of a comic book and of Wikipedia page all at once. It’s a refreshing and touching read.

Kittle also sells movie-themed calendars, shirts and other merchandise via kofi, Etsy and Redbubble.

Share your own 150-word appreciation for a piece of visual art or art happening with photo to [email protected] with the subject line “Behold.”