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RUTH ASAWAMay 15 - June 28, 2003
A Zen Buddhist background supported RUTH ASAWA at an early age in her determination to become an artist. From misfortune to good fortune, in 1942 in the temporary Japanese internment distribution center at Santa Anita racetrack, she received art training from fellow internees - Walt Disney studio artists who spent five hours a day teaching drawing. She continued her art training at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas, finally earning a scholarship to Black Mountain College in North Carolina to study with avant-garde artists Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller. Inspired by their philosophies and life-long friendship, she found a unique aesthetic ‘voice' in her experiments with wire crocheted forms using natural tools: her fingers.
At Black Mountain, Asawa met and married fellow student/architect Albert Lanier. They moved to San Francisco where she continued to crochet her wire sculptures. Those airy and sensuously curved globes, baskets and lacy forms hung from the walls and ceiling, capturing space and light and a vista that encompassed the environment. In contrast, her cast bronze sculptures are of the earth, often relating to foliage and flower forms. In the 1960s. She explored lithography through a fellowship to the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles.
In addition to her wire and bronze sculptures and lithographs, our show includes sumi brush drawings from the 1950s. Asawa manipulated sumi ink poured on a wax-coated paper; the rich, full forms of the "Plane Trees" resulted. Asawa has an affinity for ink and, throughout the recent years (even today!), she has created intricate renderings of people, plants and flowers . It is interesting to note the relationship between these fine line drawings and her delicate wire sculptures.
Over the years, as a mother of six, an inspiring teacher, a renowned artist and a community arts advocate, Asawa created cast bronze pedestal pieces and numerous public sculptures throughout the extended San Francisco region while receiving accolades and many awards and exhibiting in museums internationally. Her work has been purchased by prestigious institutions that include the Whitney Museum, the MOMA in NY, the SFMMA and the Oakland Art Museum.
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