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Ruth Asawa

Biography

Born in the California countryside just before the Great Depression, Ruth Asawa was an American artist known for her intricate, ethereal sculptures made from crocheted wire. Asawa’s brilliantly layered hanging artworks simulate biomorphic forms and are beloved for their delicate atmospheric presence and gentle interaction with their environments, which often cast shadows as graceful and elaborate as the artworks themselves.

A promising artist since childhood, Asawa enrolled at Black Mountain College in North Carolina after coming of age in the Japanese internment camp at Santa Anita, California. At Black Mountain, she studied under Josef Albers who introduced the young artist to the use of wire as an artistic material. Having learned of a wire crocheting technique used by the indigenous people of Toluca, Mexico to weave wire baskets on a class trip, Asawa elaborated on the process Albers introduced her to and applied it to the creation of her famed hanging sculptures. Liberated by the “economy of a line,” which enabled her to create artworks that existed in space and enclosed light without blocking it, Asawa relied on this practice for the majority of her artistic career and employed it in her most acclaimed works.

Asawa’s work is featured in the collection of major arts institutions worldwide such as the de Young Museum, San Francisco and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. She was the subject of a major 2017 retrospective at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, which represents her estate. Asawa passed away in 2013 at the age of 87.

 

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