Northern Wilds Magazine

Superior Artisans, In Praise of Hands


By Shawn Perich

By Cameron Norman
Butter Moon Press, $24.95

If you’ve spent any time in Cook County, Minnesota, most likely you’ve met someone who is featured in Superior Artisans, In Praise of Hands by Cameron Norman. From the builders of wooden boats and birchbark canoes to sculptors, weavers, wood carvers and even a man who ties fishing flies, Norman pays tribute to 45 talented people who call the North Shore home. As Grand Marais artist Betsy Bowen notes in the forward, “Kids grow up here thinking art is cool.”

Using her own photos and those of local photographers, Norman has compiled a glimpse into the work of the artisans and a portrait of their hands. Color photos show the artist and examples of their work, often with related photos showing the natural beauty of Cook County. Each artist also briefly describes their individual approach to the creative process. The North Shore of Lake Superior provides the book’s backdrop, with dozens of photos showing scenery, wildlife, close-ups of natural features, and scenes from local events. No captions are included with the photos, so the interpretation of the image is left up to the reader.

While some of the featured artists are working professionals, others are simply folks who enjoy creative endeavors. At the end of the book is a listing of the artists and contact information that readers will find useful if they seek to learn more about an individual’s work. Norman also has a website,, where you can find more information about the artists and also purchase the book. –Shawn Perich

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