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Inside the Art Studio of Ruth Asawa

A photo of Ruth Asawa in her studio


Ruth Asawa was a Japanese-American artist. An American citizen, the artist was forced into a Japanese internment camp for 18 months at the age of 16. During this period, Asawa took up drawing, maintaining an evolving art practice that lasted for the remainder of her life. The artist worked in a wide range of media, often focusing on abstract constructions with a geometric edge. 


Asawa’s studio looks like an ethereal alien world here -- the forms and figures hanging from the ceiling give the impression of living beings, like coral formations, plants, or strange organisms. The artist’s studio is otherwise quite busy-looking. Asawa’s space is equipped with numerous tables and benches, many small drawers no doubt holding various sculptural materials and tools. 


The artist often worked with cast-off and found materials, and likely collected these materials in this busy workshop before applying them to her artworks. Though she had a dedicated studio space, Asawa was said to always be making art in some fashion, always producing, whether it was sketching or weaving together sculptural objects during her free time. 


Asawa was born in Norwalk, California, and returned to San Francisco after her internment in Arkansas. After her return to California the artist took years to gain notoriety in the arts scene, but eventually rose to some prominence and was able to use her influence to open a fine arts school and complete several prominent public artworks, including the Garden of Remembrance, a monument to the Japanese who were interned.

[image source]

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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