Feelings: Soft Art is not your average art book. It broadly explores feeling and softness, from their conceptual applications in art to how they surface throughout life. Feelings never identifies a singular approach or conclusion, and functions more as a snippet of an ongoing conversation. The artists involved in this collective musing are a diverse, multi-generational group stretching across time and place. Yayoi Kusama, Carrie Mae Weems, Claes Oldenburg, Ty Dolla $ign, and Petra Collins are just a handful of artists involved.
Many contributors use writing to articulate their inspirations. This is especially effective for visual artists, whether it is a small notation accompanying a work or an essay on their interpretations of softness and feeling. Do Ho Suh’s images of his fabric apartments are brought to life in his written piece “The House We Carry,” unpacking his associations with home and belonging. While his work is known for its saturated color and aesthetic sleekness, the personal dimensions of the spaces he makes—uprooting his life in Korea to attend the Rhode Island School of Design, moving far more often than he’d anticipated—are intimately revealed, bringing a history to the work that might not otherwise surface. Feelings’ depths and variety enrich the experience of individual artists’ work, but also knit together a complex testament to parts of life and art making that are sometimes difficult to quantify.
Even though Feelings has a lot of content, it is not overwhelming. The breadth of visuals and concise writings maintain a light-hearted mood, even when grappling with pain and sadness. Feelings keeps readers engaged right down to its playful design. Works and words spill freely across pastel-drenched spreads, and its soft, fuzzy cover is satisfying to the touch. Softness is exuded, right down to the decision to opt out of glossy, thin pages for substantial ones that feel more like cloth. The colors and physical softness are what initially drew me to Feelings, and I enjoyed the book so much I made flyers to locally advertise it and share its goodness. If having a huggable book in your life doesn’t make you want to give Feelings a look, then I don’t know what could.