Ruth Asawa

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Ruth

Asawa

Norwalk, California
<p>Image: Ruth in 5th Grade at Norwalk Elementary School, 1935.<br />
© Estate of Ruth Asawa</p>

Ruth Asawa was born in 1926 in Norwalk, California, to Japanese immigrants making their living as truck farmers. Intending to return to Japan, Asawa’s parents sent her and her siblings to Japanese Cultural School, where she studied Japanese and calligraphy.

Image: Ruth in 5th Grade at Norwalk Elementary School, 1935.
© Estate of Ruth Asawa

Rohwer, Arkansas
<p>Image: Ruth outside her family's barrack in Rohwer Relocation Center, age 17. (1943).<br />
© Estate of Ruth Asawa</p>

Ruth Asawa and her family were forced to relocate to an internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, in the early 1940s following a United States government order that subjected thousands of Japanese Americans to mass incarceration after Imperial Japan’s attacks on Pearl Harbor. Asawa was able to complete her high school degree at the internment camp before pursuing a brief career as an art teacher.

Image: Ruth outside her family's barrack in Rohwer Relocation Center, age 17. (1943).
© Estate of Ruth Asawa

Asheville, North Carolina: BMC
<p>Image: Hazel Larsen Archer. "Ruth Asawa at Black Mountain College" c. mid 1940s.<br />
Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.</p>

Ruth Asawa attended Black Mountain College from 1946 to 1949 on the recommendation of Elaine Schmitt Urbain, whom Asawa met at Milwaukee Teacher’s College. Asawa had also been encouraged by Clara Porset, a former student of Josef Albers who taught a class on furniture making in Mexico City, which Asawa attended while in Mexico in 1945. During her time in Asheville, Asawa was particularly enthusiastic about Albers’s and Buckminster Fuller’s teachings.

Image: Hazel Larsen Archer. "Ruth Asawa at Black Mountain College" c. mid 1940s.
Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.

Toluca, Mexico
<p>Image: Ruth Asawa, "Untitled (S. 272)" c. 1950. Photo by Laurence Cuneo.<br />
© Estate of Ruth Asawa</p>

Ruth Asawa returned to Mexico between sessions at Black Mountain College on a trip sponsored by the Quakers. During the visit, Asawa learned to crochet baskets with wire, a technique she used in her final project at Black Mountain College.

Image: Ruth Asawa, "Untitled (S. 272)" c. 1950. Photo by Laurence Cuneo.
© Estate of Ruth Asawa

San Francisco, California
<p>Image: Ruth Asawa,"Aurora", Bayside Plaza, 1986. Stainless steel, 13 foot diameter.<br />
© Estate of Ruth Asawa.</p>

Ruth Asawa joined her husband Albert Lanier, a fellow Black Mountain College student, in San Francisco in 1949. The family, which eventually comprised eight members, resided there for the rest of Asawa’s life. Over the course of her career, Asawa gained considerable recognition for her sculptures, exhibiting internationally and receiving many commissions for public sculptures.

Image: Ruth Asawa,"Aurora", Bayside Plaza, 1986. Stainless steel, 13 foot diameter.
© Estate of Ruth Asawa.