Conceived and designed by Sterling Ruby (born 1972) himself, Softwork is generously illustrated with dozens of full-page photographs of works from the artist's last four exhibitions, as well as many images from Ruby's studio that provide insight into the artist's working methods. Ruby makes urethane and bronze sculptures, hallucinatory color-field canvases and handmade ceramics, addressing the conflict between individual desire and social structure, and the influence of institutional architecture, both literal and figurative, on human behavior and psychology. "'Soft Work' is only a didactic term. It's not hard, it's not solid, it's malleable," Ruby told ArtInfo. "In America, there is a domesticity that is not associated with masculinity―or if it is, it's usually associated with a difference, a contradiction." Some of the works in Softwork also point to the influence of the late Mike Kelley, to whom Ruby was both studio assistant and close friend.