Sculpture is like farming

image from www.ruthasawa.com

Yesterday I spent the day at the University art library, looking at a few books I want to purchase but haven't actually seen yet. I had forgotten how inspiring it is to sit in that library surrounded by stacks and stacks of art books and just eat up ideas. One of the books I was looking up was this one, about Ruth Asawa. She is an Japanese American who was sixteen during the Japanese internment in World War Two. After studying to be an art teacher and ultimately being denied her Bachelors Degree because they wouldn't risk sending out a Japanese student to intern, she studied under Josef Albers at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. She later went on to raise six children while producing a large body of artwork, creating public commissions and co-founded the Alvarado School Arts Workshop in San Francisco to provide public art education for children. She is a woman I can respect. She managed it all.

Her matter-a-fact approach to materials, choosing accessible and economical wire, paper or flour and transforming it, is stunning. This resourcefulness begun in her early life on a farm, used in the internment camp and later honed by Albers’ teaching serves her well. The wire sculpture’s organic forms are informed by her experience on her parent’s farm, she says "[we] used to make patterns in the dirt, hanging our feet off the horse-drawn farm equipment. We made endless hourglass figures that I now see as the forms within forms in my crocheted wire sculptures." The technique developed from Mexican basket makers is well suited to her life as a mother. She says "My materials were simple and whenever there was a free moment, I would sit down and do some work. . . . Sculpture is like farming. If you just keep at it, you can get quite a lot done."

1 comment:

PaMdora said...

Thanks for this post, Erin. I've saved it a while, and it inspired me to write about Asawa on the Ragged Cloth Cafe site tonight. I gave you credit for the find.


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