Light and shadow work in tandem. Together, they add texture and dimension to a space, or in this case a certain type of art. I want to talk about an amazing artist, Ruth Asawa, who is an expert in wire work. Its textured metallic pieces are paired seamlessly with accent lighting.
First, here’s a little info on it. She was an American artist, born 1926 died 2013. Her work has appeared in the collections of the Guggenheim and Whitney Museums in New York City, the de Young Museum in San Francisco and many other museums around the country and around the country. Globalism. She is known for her wire sculptures but has also done other metal work.
I want to focus on her hanging pieces because they make the most of the lighting. The shadows they cast are almost as important as the artwork itself. It adds dimension and a sense of buoyancy that makes these pieces even more of a hit.
Their work has been described as “floating through the air”. Thessaly La Force said it best when she spoke about her experience looking at Ruth Asawa’s sculptures at an exhibition. She said, “I stood in a gallery hung with Asawa’s wire sculptures, the movement in my body causing it to sway, the shadows of the woven wires dancing on the floor. For a moment, I was quietly transported to another place…to the depths of the sea, to a forest or perhaps somewhere completely. “
Her work certainly evokes memories of mid-century modern when so much was created, but her pieces truly transcend the times. Only recently has her work gotten the recognition she deserves. Her Japanese heritage has been an obstacle in the art world.
Ruth was a native of California, born in Norwalk, a town near Anaheim. However, her father was sent to a concentration camp in 1942 and she did not see him again until 1948. Ruth herself was interned with her siblings and mother at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California. While there, she found a group of artists from Walt Disney Studios who were also interns at the time. Later they were taken by train to the Rohir Relocation Center, where they were held until 1946. Remember, they were US citizens.
Ruth has a teaching degree but is barred from employment because of her Japanese ancestry. She went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina on a scholarship and stayed there for three years, where she met her future husband, Albert Lanier. In the early 1950s they moved to San Francisco where the atmosphere was more open to an interracial couple. Among the people who became her friends and supporters were Imogen Cunningham, Paul Hassell, Josef Albers, and Buckminster Fuller.
During the 1960s she had group shows and solo shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the 1980s and early 2000s, she focused her energy on building a public high school for the arts in San Francisco. In 2010, the school was renamed and is now the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.
In 2006, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Arts conducted a major retrospective of her work, “Features in the Air”. Finally, curators around the world are beginning to acknowledge her contribution to postmodern American art.
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