Artist of the moment…..Sculptor Ruth Asawa….

The artist is a Japanese/ American that was born in 1926 in Norwalk, California. She is known for her organic shapes made with wire and other found materials. She was one of seven children. Her dad bought and sold trucks for a living. Then came World War Two and the family was moved to one of the Japanese Internment camps when Asawa was sixteen years old.

Asawa graduated high school whilst still at the internment center. She went on to college to become a teacher at the Milwaukee State Teacher’s College. She was unable to get hired for her student teaching work and left college without a degree. This degree was eventually given in 1998.

Asaway also studied with Josef Albers at the Black Mountain College located in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Asawa is a well established painter in San Francisco. The San Francisco School for the Arts was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School for the Arts in 2010. She is an iconic figure in the San Francisco community where you can see her some of her large public commissions.

She became a national figure in the art world after being part of several group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Art in the 1950s.

Price range information on the artist:  She is mainly a sculptor but has also done works in watercolor which can be found for less than five thousand dollars. Works in bronze are the most affordable in a range from $1,000 to $5,000. Ceramic works can be found around $1,000. Copper works can range from $30,000 top $278,000. Steel works can cost up to nearly $400,000.

A great example of her sculpture here.

A great example of a sculpture. You get a great feel for her use of shape.

In this clip from the San Jose Museum of Art we here from a curator about a show featuring Asawa.

In this clip we see a local San Francisco television station’s segment on the artist. She helped to lead a group in San Francisco, of which one of her sons is part of, of working artists into public schools. At around the seven minute mark you can see Ruth working on a collaboration with this son.

The artist reminds me of Yayoi Kusama for her great use of organic shapes. Kusama is a great artist who has lived much of her life in a mental facility, but that doesn’t stop her from creating wonderful works of art. Below is an example of Kusami’s art. She was born in 1929 and became a United States citizen in 1966. Below is a great example of her unique style.  She is known for her abstract use of shape and her genre of gourds and pumpkins.


Another artist that comes to mind would be Ken Price. Price, who passed away in 2012, was a great artist who was known for his use of shapes with ceramics. Asawa and Price both do a great job of creating a shape that seems to have movement that never stops.


I think its important to remember the past. Asawa had a tough upbringing living in the internment camps, I imagine her as I child still playing and creating as all children do with their boundless energy. With the passing of the Senator from Hawaii Daniel Inouye a few weeks ago, it was a brief reminder of how asians were seen decades ago. With great examples like Ruth Asawa and  Daniel Inouye it should be an example to all people, not only artists, of what is possible with the human mind! No matter how bad your current situation is, CREATE SOMETHING, put that nervous energy to great use!


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