Here's the last woman artist I'm writing up for my thesis. Aren't these two photos gorgeous? They were taken by Imogene Cunningham. Ruth Asawa was born in 1926 in southern California. Her parents were Japanese immigrant farmers, but due to the laws of the time, not allowed to own land or become US citizens.
When Ruth was 16, in 1942, her father was arrested by the FBI, and taken away for six years. Ruth, her mother and siblings were sent to an interment camp, first at Santa Ana racetrack, where they lived in horse stables. Later they were moved to a camp in Arkansas. Ruth finished high school there, and was taught by many artists also interned.
After the war, she studied to become an art teacher in Wisconsin. To graduate she needed to complete student teaching, but couldn't get a position in a school, due to her Japanese heritage in the postwar era. She decided to go to Black Mountain College instead.
At Black Mountain College, she studied with Merce Cunningham, Josef Albers, and Buckminster Fuller. She met her future husband, Albert Lanier, and pursued her art. In the summer, she returned to Mexico, where she learned to make crocheted baskets. She used this technique later for many of her sculptures.
After graduation, she and Albert moved to San Francisco, where she still lives today. She devoted much of her life to creating art education programs in the San Francisco schools, and to raising six children. She and her husband started the San Francisco School of the Arts, a public high school for serious art students(my niece went there). Her philosophy of learning problem solving and creative expression through art and gardening has been adopted by many schools today. There are many public sculptures in the city created by Ruth, some with SF school children. Her wire sculptures have been exhibited all over the state and are in permanent collections at the DeYoung, SFMOMA and the Oakland Museum.
It all began when my aunt gave me The Tyger Voyage (by Richard Adams)when I was fourteen. Looking at Nicola Bayley's glowing illustrations made me want to paint some of my own. I still love her work, and I still have that book.