Her Stamp So Profound - Page 2

San Francisco artist Ruth Asawa's striking sculptures honored with new USPS stamps
  Fridays on the Homefront

One of seven children born to a pair of Japanese-American immigrants, Asawa and family were interned during World War II and attended school within the camps. She went on to study at Black Mountain College, a revolutionary school in North Carolina that was dedicated to holistic education. There, her studies under top thinkers like choreographer Merce Cunningham, artist Willem de Kooning, and designer Buckminster Fuller were instrumental in developing her artistic sensibilities.

On a trip to Toluca, Mexico, she learned to crochet metal wire, a technique she used similar to drawing in order to explore the relationship between interior and exterior volumes. She also met her husband at Black Mountain, architect Albert Lanier. While bearing six children in the 1950s, her sculptures began to attract attention at exhibitions in places like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Newly released book on Asawa: 'Everything She Touches: The Life of Ruth Asawa' (Chronicle Books, 2020)

"Inspired by plants, snail shells, spider webs, insect wings, and water droplets, Asawa's sculptures, when shown together, can evoke an undersea domain, a magical upside-down world…," suggests the press release about the commemorative stamp release.

The family moved in 1960 to the city's Noe Valley neighborhood, where Asawa was an active presence for the rest of her life. Asawa was appointed to local, state, and national arts commissions and campaigned vigorously for arts education in schools.

As San Francisco and the Bay Area embraced modernism in the '60s and '70s, developers and governments turned increasingly to Asawa to bring her artistic vision to public places: a mermaid sculpture at Ghirardelli Square, one using children's art in Union Square, pieces commemorating Japanese-American internment installed respectively in San Jose and San Francisco.

  Fridays on the Homefront

In 2010, the city's School of the Arts was named for her, and recognition of Asawa's genius continues today, with a new book titled Everything She Touches: The Life of Ruth Asawa (Chronicle Books, 2020) being reviewed in the Fall 2020 edition of our CA-Modern magazine. Truly, Ruth Asawa's 'stamp' on the art world was profound indeed.