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From internment to avant-garde art institute: the rare life story of Ruth Asawa, the “fountain lady” of San Francisco.

Ruth Asawa is best known for her sculptures “crocheted” from metal wire, figures she described as “drawings in space.” Suspended, her voluminous forms have the unlikely appearance of fragile webs. The wire sculptures marry her art and craft training: high concepts from her time at Black Mountain College—the experimental art school–cum-farm in North Carolina that offered no degrees—merged with metal basket-making techniques that she learned in Mexico.

Despite critics’ gendered readings of her art as craft, she flourished as an exhibiting artist. After three years at Black Mountain College, where Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller were both mentors, she moved to San Francisco in 1949. There, she expanded into additional roles as an arts advocate, educator and mother. (She had six children in nine years with husband Albert Lanier.) In the 1950s, her work was shown at numerous museums including the Whitney and as part of

  • Words:
    Suzanne Snider
  • Photography:
    © 2016 Imogen Cunningham Trust

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  • Words:
    Suzanne Snider
  • Photography:
    © 2016 Imogen Cunningham Trust
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