(1926 - 2013)

California sculptor, social activist, and educator Ruth Asawa began creating art while detained in Japanese-American internment camps. Upon release, she attended the Black Mountain Collage, where she studied under Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, and Merce Cunningham. It was during her upbringing on a farm, where patterns in the earth made by horse-drawn farm equipment became lasting inspiration for her biomorphic looped artwork for which she is best known. Her hanging wire sculptures merged her craftsmanship learned from Mexican basket waving and interest in extending line drawing into the third dimension. These works challenged the traditional notions of sculpture at the time, with an emphasis on light, transparency, and negative space. “I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out.” Asawa is also known for her public art, with many sculptures dotting the San Francisco landscape.

Asawa had a career retrospective at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in 2006. Asawa’s work is held in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose; Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Harvard Art Museum, Cambridge, among many others.