Ruth Asawa (American/Japanese, 2013)

Ruth Asawa (American/Japanese, b. January 24, 1926) is a sculptor who lives and works in San Francisco, CA. She was born in Southern California to Japanese immigrants. In 1942, her family was sent to a Japanese internment camp for six months; while there, she spent time drawing and painting with other artists. Asawa traveled to Mexico City in 1945 to study Spanish and Mexican Art. While attending the Milwaukee State Teachers College in Wisconsin, she was told that she couldn’t complete her degree because of the prejudice that existed against the Japanese people at the time. As a result, Asawa continued her education at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. While there, she studied under Josef Albers (American/German, 1888–1976), Merce Cunningham (American, 1919–2009), and Buckminster Fuller (American, 1895–1983).

In 1947, Asawa returned to Mexico and learned basket weaving techniques, which later influenced her to create crocheted wire sculptures. During the 1950s, Asawa began her art career making paintings and drawings that developed into linear works. Inevitably, her drawings shifted into sculpture. Asawa considers her wire sculptures to be three-dimensional drawings that change with the viewer’s perspective.

In 1966, the artist began to receive commissions for public art starting with Andrea, a fountain in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. She also designed the Japanese-American Internment Memorial Sculpture in San Jose in 1994. Asawa collaborated with landscape artists in 2002 to bring large boulders from former Japanese internment camps to San Francisco State University to create the Garden of Remembrance. Her belief in making art education available to children from all backgrounds lead her to co-found the Alvarado Arts Workshop (now called the San Francisco Arts Education Project) with Sally Woodbridge and other local parents in 1965. Asawa’s sculptures can be found in the collections of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, the Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art in Logan, Utah. Asawa is represented by the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco, CA.

Timeline

Born in Norwalk, USA

Exhibitions

2012
Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, USA
2011
Elements: The Beauty of Chemisty, Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
2009
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2007–2008
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2007
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
De Young Museum, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2005
Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
2003
Tobey C. Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (solo)
Vital Forms, American Art in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, USA
2002
Ruth Asawa: Completing the Circle, Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, USA
Parallels and Intersections: Art/Women/California, 1950-2000, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, USA
2001
Ruth Asawa: Completing the Circle, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, USA
Leading the Way: Visionary Asia American Woman Artists of the Older Generation, Gordon College, Wenham, USA
2000
Made in California: Art, Image and Identity, 1900-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA
Raumkorper Netze und Andree Gebilde, Kunthsalle, Basel, Switzerland
1999
Art in Stone: Prints from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, 1960-1970, Norman Simon Museum, Pasadena, USA
1997
The Fabric of Life: 150 years of Northern California Fiber Art History, San Francisco State University Art Department Gallery, San Francisco, USA
1996
Generations--the Lineage of Influence in Bay Area Art, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, USA
1995
J.J. Bookings Gallery, San Francisco, USA
With New Eyes, University of Michigan and the San Francisco State University Gallery, Detroit and San Francisco, USA
1993
Asian Roots, Western Soil, Berkeley Arts Center, Berkeley, USA
Pacific Rim: Japan, California Crafts Museum, San Francisco, USA
Syntex Gallery, Palo Alto, USA
1989–1990
Blueprint for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA
1988
Passages: A Survey of California Women Artists, Fresno Arts Center and Museum, Fresno, USA
The Eloquent Object (Sculpture), Phillbrook Museum, Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, USA
1987
San Francisco City College Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
1986
Two Person Show (Sculpture), Los Robles Gallery, Palo Alto, USA
1984
Evergreen Galleries, Olympia, USA
1982
Fiberworks, Berkeley, USA
1979
Cedar Street Gallery, Santa Cruz, USA
Cabrillo College, Aptos; Cedar Street Gallery, Santa Cruz, USA (solo)
Santa Cruz County Building, Santa Cruz, USA (solo)
1978
Fresno Arts Center and Museum, Fresno, USA (solo)
1973
Baxter Gallery, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA (solo)
Van Doren Gallery, San Francisco, USA (solo)
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, USA (solo)
1972
American Women: 20th Century, Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, USA
1970
Painters and Sculptors of San Francisco: The Expo 70 Presentation of the San Francisco Art Commission. San Marco Gallery at Dominican College, San Rafael, USA
1969
Recent Drawings: Ruth Asawa, Capper Gallery, San Francisco, USA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA
1967
Made with Paper, Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York, USA
1966
Contemporary Prints from Northern California, IBM Gallery, New York, USA
1965
Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, USA (solo)