RUTH ASAWA BIOGRAPHY



[ Chronology | Solo Exhibitions | Group Exhibitions | Commissions | Awards | Collections | Bibliography ]



(b.1926, Norwalk, CA)

1942
During World War II, 16 year old Asawa and her family are detained at the Santa Anita Racetrack.

1943
They are transferred to the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas, where Asawa receives her High School diploma.

1943-1946
Attends Milwaukee State Teachers College; her Japanese heritage impedes student teacher training; could not fulfill requirements for her degree.

1946-1949
Receives scholarship to Black Mountain College, North Carolina; studies with avant-garde artists Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller. Here she begins experimenting with crocheted wire sculpture and also meets her future husband, architect Albert Lanier.

1949
Marries Albert Lanier and moves to San Francisco.

1950-1960
Exhibits in solo and group shows internationally including San Francisco Museum of Art and deYoung Museum, Oakland Art Museum, Chicago’s Art Institute, New York’s Whitney and MOMA and the Sao Paulo Bienal in Brazil.

1965
Receives the Tamarind Lithography Workshop fellowship; creates 52 lithographs.

1968-1972
Active in SF Public Schools; introduces dough as sculpture technique. Serves on SF Art Commission.

1974
Appointed to President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health.

1976
Appointed to the California Arts Council.

1980
Serves on the National Endowment for the Arts.

1982
February 12 is declared Ruth Asawa Day in San Francisco.

1968-1998
Receives two Honorary Doctorate of Arts degrees, a Bachelor of Fine Arts and many, many Awards.

2002
Participates in making The Garden of Remembrance at San Francisco State University in memory of the devastation caused to Japanese-Americans by World War II internment.



Solo Exhibitions:

1953
Design Research, Cambridge, MA

1954, 56, 58
Peridot Gallery, NY

1960
M.H. deYoung Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA

1963
Shop 1, Rochester, NY

1965
Pasadena Museum of Art, Pasadena, CA

1969
Los Angeles County Fair
Capper Gallery, San Francisco

1973
San Francisco Museum of Art, Retrospective View
Van Doren Gallery, San Francisco
Baxter Gallery, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

1978
Fresno Art Center, Fresno, CA

1979
Santa Cruz County Building, Santa Cruz, CA
Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA
Cedar Street Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA

1987
San Francisco City College Art Gallery, San Francisco, CA

1996
J.J. Brookings Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2001-2002
Completing the Circle, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA; Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA

2003
Tobey C. Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2007
Tobey C. Moss Gallery, Los Angeles, CA



Group Exhibitions:

1954
Four Artists, San Francisco Museum of Art

1962
San Francisco Museum of Art

1968
Mills College, Oakland, CA
Museum West, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

1969
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

1970
Dominican College, San Rafael, CA

1973
Van Doren Gallery, San Francisco

1982
Fiberworks, Berkeley, CA

1984
Evergreen Galleries, Olympia, WA

1987-1988
The Eloquent Object, Philbrook Museum, Oakland Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Art

1988
Passages: A Survey of California Women Artists, Oakland Museum of Art

1989-1990
Blueprint for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

1992
Syntax Gallery, Palo Alto, CA

1993
Pacific Rim: Japan, California Crafts Museum, San Francisco
Asian Roots, Western Soil, Berkeley Arts Center

1995
University of Michigan
With New Eyes, San Francisco State University Gallery

1996
Generations - The Lineage of Influence in Bay Area Art, Richmond Arts Center

1999
Art From Stone: Prints from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, 1960-1970, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA

2000
Raumkorper Netze und Andere Gebilde, Kunsthalle, Basel, Switzerland
Made in California: Art, Image and Identity, 1900-2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

2001
Asian Roots, Western Soil, Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA
Leading the Way: Visionary Asian American Artists of the Older Generation, Gordon College, Wenham, MA

2001-2003
Vital Forms: American Art in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960, Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY (traveling)



Public Commissions:

1963-1965
Joseph Magnin Co., San Francisco and Topanga Canyon: Woven and Tied Wire Sculpture

1965
J.L. Hudson, Detroit, MI: Tied Wire Sculpture

1966
Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, Andrea: Cast bronze fountain

1971
The City of Phoenix, AZ, Civic Plaza: Tied bronze wire fountain

1970-1973
The Hyatt Corporation of America, Grand Hyatt on Union Square: Cast bronze fountain

1974
Makota Hagiwara, Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco: Bronze plaque

1977-1979
DeBartolo Corporation of Youngstown, OH, Mission Viejo, CA: Cast bronze sculpture

1984
Ramada Renaissance Hotel of San Francisco, San Francisco Yesterday and Today: Glass fiber reinforced concrete bas relief

1988
Beringer Winery, St. Helena, CA: Cast bronze fountain

1994
City of San Jose, County of Santa Clara, and the Local Japanese-American Community, Japanese American Internment Memorial Sculpture, San Jose, CA: Cast bronze bas-relief sculpture

Private Commissions:

1979
Crown Zellerbach Corporation, San Francisco: Bronze bas-relief plaques

1996
Dorothy and Theodore Kitt, San Francisco: Welded bronze gate



Awards:

1969
Osaka Expo

1973
Cable Car Award, San Francisco Visitors & Convention Bureau

1974
Fine Arts Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects
Honorary Doctorate Degree, California College of Arts and Crafts
Robert Kirkwood Award, San Francisco Foundation

1982
Ruth Asawa Day, City and County of San Francisco

1983
Honorary Masters Degree, Academy of Art College, San Francisco, CA

1989
Arts Award, Asian Heritage Council

1990
Cyril Magnin Award, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

1992
Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts, Women’s Caucus for Art

1995
Golden Apple Lifetime Achievement Award, San Francisco Education Fund
Golden Ring Lifetime Achievement Award, Asian American Arts Foundation
Artist-Mentor in Visual Arts Award, International Network of Performing & Visual Arts Schools
Art with Elders Honor, Ministry to Nursing Homes

1997
Lifetime Achievement Award, Precita Eyes Mural Center
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, San Francisco Art Institute

1998
Honorary Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Milwaukee
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, San Francisco State University

2001
Distinguished Woman Artist for 2001, Fresno Art Museum’s Council of 100



Selected Public Collections:

Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Oakland Museum of Art, Oakland, CA
Addison Gallery, Andover, MA
Williams College, MA
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY



Bibliography--
Books
:

1970
Imogen Cunningham: Photographs, Imogen Cunningham, University of Washington Press

1973
Ruth Asawa’s San Francisco Fountain, Sally Woodbridge
The Alvarado Experience, Andrea Jepson and Sharon Litzky

1975
Textile Techniques in Metal, Arline M. Fisch, Van Norstrand Reinhold, NY

1976
The Alvarado Experience, Andrea Jepson and Sharon Litzky

1980
The Arts and Community Oral History Project, “Ruth Asawa, Art, Competence and Citywide Cooperation for San Francisco”, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

1982
50 West Coast Artists, Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, G.K. Hall & Co., Boston

1987
The Arts at Black Mountain College, Mary Emma Harris, MIT Press

1992
American Women Sculptors, Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, G.K. Hall & Co., Boston
Gifted Woman, Howard Schatz, Pacific Photographic Press, San Francisco

1994
Worlds in Collision: Dialogues on Multicultural Art Issues, Carlos Villa, Project Director, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco

1996
The New Older Woman, Downes, Tuttle, Faul & Mudd, Celestial Arts, Berkeley
ART PICTORIAL, Asahi Art Communications Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan

1999
On Women Turning 70: Honoring the Voices of Wisdom, Cathleen Rountree, Jossey Bass, San Francisco

2000
Couples, Mariana Cook, Chronicle Books, San Francisco

2001
Buckminster Fuller: Anthology for the New Millennium, Thomas Zung, Editor, St. Martin’s Press, NY


Catalogues:

1973
Ruth Asawa: A Retrospective View, San Francisco Museum of Art

1987
The Eloquent Object, Marsha Manhart and Tom Manhart, Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK

1989
Synergetic Circus: Buckminster Fuller’s Sea of Intuition, P3 Alternative Museum of Tokyo, interview
Blueprint for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles


Film:
Ruth Asawa: On Forms and Growth, by Robert Snyder, Masters and Masterworks Production, Inc. Pacific Palisades, CA, Commissioned by Buckminster Fuller, 1978


Return to Ruth Asawa