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Everything She Touched: Life of Ruth Asawa

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Everything She Touched recounts the incredible life of the American sculptor Ruth Asawa.

This is the story of a woman who wielded imagination and hope in the face of intolerance and who transformed everything she touched into art. In this compelling biography, author Marilyn Chase brings Asawa's story to vivid life. She draws on Asawa's extensive archives and weaves together many voices—family, friends, teachers, and critics—to offer a complex and fascinating portrait of the artist.

Born in California in 1926, Ruth Asawa grew from a farmer's daughter to a celebrated sculptor. She survived adolescence in the World War II Japanese-American internment camps and attended the groundbreaking art school at Black Mountain College. Asawa then went on to develop her signature hanging-wire sculptures, create iconic urban installations, revolutionize arts education in her adopted hometown of San Francisco, fight through lupus, and defy convention to nurture a multiracial family.

• A richly visual volume with over 60 reproductions of Asawa's art and archival photos of her life (including portraits shot by her friend, the celebrated photographer Imogen Cunningham)
• Documents Asawa's transformative touch—most notably by turning the barbed wire of prison camps into wire sculptures of astonishing power and delicacy
• Author Marilyn Chase mined Asawa's letters, diaries, sketches, and photos and conducted interviews with those who knew her to tell this inspiring story.

Ruth Asawa forged an unconventional path in everything she did—whether raising a multiracial family of six children, founding a high school dedicated to the arts, or pursuing her own practice independent of the New York art market.

Her beloved fountains are now San Francisco icons, and her signature hanging-wire sculptures grace the MoMA, de Young, Getty, Whitney, and many more museums and galleries across America.

• Ruth Asawa's remarkable life story offers inspiration to artists, art lovers, feminists, mothers, teachers, Asian Americans, history buffs, and anyone who loves a good underdog story.
• A perfect gift for those interested in Asian American culture and history
• Great for those who enjoyed Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art by Mary Gabriel, Ruth Asawa: Life's Work by Tamara Schenkenberg, and Notes and Methods by Hilma af Klint

355 pages, Kindle Edition

Published April 7, 2020

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About the author

Marilyn Chase

2 books9 followers
I'm an author, journalist and teacher at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. I love telling stories never told before!
(Author photo by Laura Duldner.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 67 reviews
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,157 reviews393 followers
January 10, 2023
Parts of this book were very enjoyable. Hearing about Ruth's childhood was fascinating and inspiring. Working on the farm, going to school and Japanese school filled every second of the day. Ruth commented how school was so easy compared with farm work it seemed like playtime. Ruth's parents worked ridiculously hard and left Ruth with a hard working ethic that made her not want to waste a second of her life.

Although the start was enjoyable, and I loved hearing about Ruth and Albert's babies, I didn't feel I got to know Ruth much. I wanted to read more about her work and what inspired her but there was little detail about this. There were nowhere near enough photos and too much of the book, especially the second half, focused on ill health.

I always find it sad reading about someones life over a couple of days and seeing their life from babyhood to old age and illness flash before my eyes.

I find Ruth's work really inspiring, she is one my favourite artists. There is a handful of photos of her sculptures in here, sadly there is only one image of a painting of hers, I was hoping to see more. As the title suggests, this is more about her life than her art but as her art was a huge part of her life I was hoping for a little more.
Profile Image for Jen .
2,457 reviews28 followers
April 29, 2020
I knew nothing about Ruth Asawa or her artwork when I requested this book. It looked interesting and I decided to give it a try.

I am now madly in love with the person Ruth was and will be trying to view everything of her's that I can now. I won't be able to afford any of it, but looking is free, thank goodness!

I think what I love most about her is that she was not just dedicated to her art, she was full of love for all those around her, not just her family, which was six children strong, two of whom were adopted. More evidence of her and her husband's boundless love. Her love for art and children led her to be a HUGE proponent of art in school and put her money and hard work where her mouth was. She literally founded a school of the arts in California, which they named after her in her honor. She has made artwork for all to see and share in as well, fighting for art to be in the civic sphere as well as in the educational one.

Rather than just gushing over Ruth, I will instead just tell you to get this book to learn more about her.

Funny/sad story, while FaceTiming with family, cuz can't visit anyone cuz pandemics suck, I hadn't yet finished the book, but I was going on and on about how awesome Ruth was and everything she did and everything she experienced (Japanese internment camps during WWII, so sad and a huge blight on America), they asked how old she was. The book either wasn't overly clear in the section I was reading or I just missed it, but I admitted I didn't know, so Wiki'd her. And just about cried.

SPOILER WARNING, don't Wiki her if you want NO spoilers.

Yes, this is a story where the MC dies at the end. I was heartbroken. I hadn't gotten to that part yet. Though her end was SOOOOO POETIC and FIT her so PERFECTLY. Depending on how one looks at it, it's either circle of life, or a tad on the morbid side. I go for the touching, circle of life interpretation.

Anywho, this book took FIVE years to research and write and it SHOWS. The personality of Ruth Asawa was front and center, the depth of information in this blew me away. And, to show how the art community is a tight-knit one, her mentor Josef Albers was mentioned with his artwork in the most recent book on art that I had read. It took me longer than I would have liked to make the connection between the man and the painting in the book I just read, but I DID eventually figure it out. I need to be more open to connections like that in what I read!

So, long story short. Should you read this book? I say yes. It is about a fascinating, wonderful person who probably lived a life that most of us can't even begin to imagine. Just learning about what she, and others, went through is important. But then to see how she lived her life with love and generosity instead of bitterness and hate is nothing short of inspiring. She never forgot what happened, but she didn't let it define who she was and how she was going to act.

5, Ruth Asawa is amazing and I wish I had had the opportunity to know her, stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and Chronicle Books for a copy of the eARC to read and review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Knobby.
529 reviews27 followers
January 13, 2020
I received a digital advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review

Ruth Asawa was such a fascinating person. I feel foolish for not knowing about this artist until reading this book; I was drawn to the book cover (which shows Ruth herself with one of her wire sculpture pieces overlaid on top of her image). A Japanese-American Nisei (second-generation American) interned during WWII, who went on to study art at Black Mountain College amid other creators like Rauschenberg, married a white man when anti-miscegenation laws were still prevalent, and continued to make a name for herself on both U.S. coasts while raising six children, and basically is the reason there's a performing arts school in San Francisco today, Ruth Asawa was a powerhouse.

As a Japanese-American artist, I found Asawa to be a compelling and interesting person, and totally someone to look up to. Loved the large images of Asawa's art and smaller behind-the-scenes photos of her creating them. I wished there had been more photos of her house, which, from the glimpses we see in the few snapshots shared, seemed like such an interesting building, what with the life masks of friends' faces cast and hung on the walls, and the intricately carved door.

I'd recommend this book to people who are interested in smart, motivated women artists and also those who are curious about the history of Japanese-Americans during WWII and the history of San Francisco as an artist's colony. Asawa's first-person accounts of her own personal history intertwine deeply within both.
Profile Image for quinnster.
1,639 reviews15 followers
January 7, 2023
What an amazing woman Ruth Asawa was. I loved every minute reading about her joy & accomplishments. I also loved that she had a sister named Lois as my Bachan, Ruth also had an older sister named Lois!
Profile Image for Carol Bakker.
1,127 reviews76 followers
August 3, 2021
As of 7.12.21, I had never heard of Ruth Asawa. When Rachel, one of my favorite nonagenarians, called to talk all things books, she recommended this biography of a San Francisco artist. I'm SO glad she did.

This is the story of a young Japanese American farm girl who awoke before dawn to work for hours before going to school. Of a family swept into interment camps behind barbed wire during the second world war. Of a soul so taken with art that she crafted beauty from cast-off materials.

Themes that captured me: frugality, humility, interracial marriage, tending to six children while making sculptures, gardening, art in education, generosity, and hard work.

I love connections, finding familiar characters where you least expect: Ruth was a former student and lifelong friend of Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome. Also, after a diagnosis of lupus, Ruth reveled in Flannery O'Connor's letters describing her experience with it in The Habit of Being.

The book bogged down a little in details of her battles with school boards and county commissioners.

Two lovely extracts from love letters between Ruth Asawa and Albert Lanier:

Ruth to Albert:: I cannot love without work and I cannot stand ugliness, and laziness is one of the lowest forms of ugliness to me, but I'm afraid I would love you even if you were lazy, I now love you so blindly...

Albert to Ruth: Ruth, love me as you are tender to plants, as you love coils of beautiful wire, as you love loneliness--knowing that time will wear rough edges smooth--that distance is surmountable--that wire is stronger than stone--that God is good and God is love.
154 reviews
May 23, 2021
This book was great on two levels: the subject, Ruth Asawa, is an inspiring artist, and the book is carefully researched and beautifully written. I knew nothing about Asawa prior to reading the book, but her life story was incredibly compelling. The details of her family's experience in the Japanese-American internment camps were breathtaking. I was previously aware of the internment camps, but the book gave me a personal glimpse into the emotional, physical, mental toll of that exprience on one family. The resiliency and grace of Asawa's family shines through the conditions they (and thousands of other citizens) were made to endure. I was pleased to learn that reparations were paid to some of these citizens, along with a note sent from President George H.W. Bush. On a personal note, I was very interested to read this story of Asawa's inter-racial marriage, begun decades ago when such things were not as widely accepted as now.

I'm very curious about how people become artists and how they make a living that way. I learned from Asawa that it is not a career to make one wealthy, but rather a lifelong engagement with your community. I also saw how she combined her lives as artist, mother, wife, and community organizer/activist. No small feat, and it is helpful for others to see the path that has been blazed by women such as Asawa.

On top of all this is the art itself! The photographs in the book were amazing, as was the variety of art Asawa produced. This was a touching, beautiful book and I'm grateful for the chance to know this artist and her contributions to her local and world community.
46 reviews5 followers
December 13, 2020
An Amazing Woman you never heard of....this biography will restore your faith in humanity. As soon as travel is safe, an Asawa San Francisco treasure hunt will be scheduled.
Profile Image for Lynda.
169 reviews
August 26, 2022
VERY well written story about a very underrated sculptor. Most books about art and artists are written by academics and art historians, who cannot write to save their lives and are thus virtually unreadable. I thought the author did a great job in her storytelling to keep story engaging delightful to read from start to finish. I love all the historical background during WW2 for Japanese in the internment camps, it almost adds more flavor to the inspiration of the artist. There are photographs that accompanies the writing that also made the book overall very appealing.

Ruth Asawa deserved a remarkable biography - what an extraordinary life, what an extraordinary person, both gifted and humble, representing the essence of asian artist of today.
Profile Image for Lizbeth.
515 reviews16 followers
June 11, 2020
I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, publisher and Netgalley.com. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Everything She Touched is an insightful biography of one of the most important female sculptors of our time. Ruth Asawa's work is amazing and her story is one of triumph.

5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Kerry Kay.
18 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2020
I've always loved Asawa's sculptures. The repetitive quality and the sensual shapes make the pieces each to fall in love with. However, I never knew her story. She grew up on a farm in the California Central Valley. During the war, she was interned in Arkansas. During internment, she left for a teacher's college in Wisconsin. There she learned about the famous Black Mountain College in North Carolina and moved there from Wisconsin. From there she meets her husband Albert Lanier and they move to San Francisco where they live the rest of their lives. As she establishes herself in the New York art scene, she gives it up and focuses her attention on public art and art education in public schools. It's a fascinating life that includes the injustices of internment, rubbing elbows with the heart of mid-century American modernism at Black Mountain, civic engagement, battles with local government over arts education along with the perils of interracial marriage in the second half the 20th century, a staggering motherhood to 6 children, late life illness. Asawa needs to be more famous than she is and this is a great book to learn about her life.

Marilyn's a friend mom and I'm so excited to know a writer who publishes books! Her last book was about the bubonic plague in San Francisco. What I love is that in both of these books, she writes about the unwritten Asian American history in San Francisco. Her last book just talks about Chinatown because that's where it happened. She doesn't ignore it like other writers might. She writes about it with the importance and depth that the story deserves. Here too, one of the most important of Asian American artists who has been ignored by the establishment, is given the biography that she deserves. In this book, Marilyn doesn't skimp on the section on internment which I think America in general ignores and many historians ignores, thus in general no one knows anything about. This was a great read. I learned a lot. You should read it too.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anna Keating.
Author 12 books39 followers
October 11, 2021
Ruth Asawa is a hero. She made art and raised her children and loved her partner and friends and helped her community and was serious about all of it. It wasn't just a body of work it was a life. Her work ethic and talent are so inspiring.
102 reviews2 followers
February 4, 2021
How some people live through the atrocious and unforgivable hypocrisy that is United States policy, and then choose to spend their lifetime generously giving and giving and giving back, continues to baffle me. Ruth Asawa is a legend and a paragon of grace. That is all.
Profile Image for Gooshe Net.
99 reviews29 followers
September 29, 2020
شاید اگر آن روز زمستانی در سال چهل‌ودو میلادی خانواده «اساوا» در کالیفرنیا در ��بازداشت دسته‌جمعی ژاپنی‌های آمریکا» به اردوگاه زندانیان ژاپنی-آمریکایی ایالت نیومکزیکو فرستاده نمی‌شد، دختر نوجوان آن خانواده امروز یکی از بزرگ‌ترین هنرمندان و مجسمه‌سازان جهان نشده بود. «روث اساوا»، که در کالیفرنیا به دنیا آمده بود، مثل هزاران ژاپنی دیگر در آمریکا، در واکنش به حمله ژاپن به پرل هاربر، به اردوگاه  مخصوص نگهداری از ژاپنی‌ها بُرده شد. او در شانزده‌سالگی در همین بازداشتگاه با جمعیت مکزیکی‌تبار، آشنا شد. در همان روزهایی که از دیدن پدرش محروم بود و مثل یک اسیر جنگیُ بهت‌زده و حیران روزگار را می‌گذراند، غرق فرهنگ، ادبیات و هنر اسپانیایی ‌زبان‌های منطقه شد و فهمید در زندان می‌تواند هنر را کشف کند. به هر چه نگاه کرد، در همان محیط بسته الهام‌بخشش شد و درک کرد، نزدیک‌ترین چیزها به هنر، واقعیت‌های عادی زندگی است؛ مثل سبدبافی بومی مکزیکی که به ایده اصلی قلاب‌بافی سیمی او تبدیل شد:«من هیچ‌کس را به خاطر آن روزها سرزنش نمی‌کنم. گاهی اتفاق‌‌های خوب و سرنوشت‌ساز زندگی از نامُلایمات، رنج‌ها مشقت‌های زندگی می‌آیند.»
Profile Image for Kimmy.
207 reviews
March 28, 2021
A life well deserving of an in depth biography such as this. Even after finishing this account of Ruth Asawa's life, I feel like I would like to know still more about how she managed to do everything she did. It seems impossible, and she must have had magic powers to have accomplished it all. The book has a lop-sided pacing, spending quite a lot of time on her later years and less so in her formative ones. It did spark my interest in learning much more about Black Mountain College. I would have liked to see about a thousand more photos.
It was, belatedly, my first time reading a personal account of the Japanese internment (concentration) camps of WWII America, and that was eye-opening.
As an artist, I cannot imagine how she took care of six children- adopting her first at age 21 to coincide with her first born!- and make all of the art that she did. One passage simply says, "Ruth set no walls between life and work; she wanted them to observe her making sculpture as naturally as making dinner. She strove to weave a seamless tapestry of sculpting and parenting, answering children's needs around the rhythms of her studio. She's put down a sculpture to make a peanut butter sandwich, then resume looping wire."
In all, a great jumping off point to dive into this exceptional and inspiring artist's life and work even more.
Profile Image for Beth.
80 reviews6 followers
March 29, 2022
Ruth Asawa is an incredible artist through and through and an amazing, selfless human being as well. As many have said about her, everything about her life was art. That said, my review is about the book, not Asawa and her art (that would be 10000 stars!) The author's tone is often very odd and old fashioned. I was actually shocked this book was written only a couple of years ago and its author is not an elderly man. For example, early on when commenting about a photo of Ruth, her husband and their two children, the author remarks "Albert looks like a proud father and Ruth has a shiny bob haircut." Throughout, there are similar phrases needlessly commenting on her appearance. She also editorializes that Ruth was "tan and trim" after the summer and so caught Albert's eye. Yeah, no. It was far more than her outer looks (as Albert and other classmates attest) that attracted him to her. Why comment on what Ruth is wearing in comparison to the socialites of California? She's an artist, why would she wear a "trim suit?" I think the author does a huge disservice to Asawa and her efforts in both life and art by regularly interspersing editorial commentary on her hair ("what used to be a glossy black bob is now silvery fringe") and body ("her small figure was now fuller due to steroids".)
Profile Image for Alexia Polasky.
Author 6 books28 followers
May 25, 2020
This book is ideal for those looking for a biography on a lesser known artist that was key in her time, area and field, who was also an early feminist without even intending to do so, and also like learning about the historical and social context in which all of that happened. If that sounds good but you'd like to know more before making the decision to read it, you can find a more comprehensive review on my blog.

I’d like to thank Netgalley and Chronicle Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review, but most of all for allowing me to get to know and learn about the incredible artist and important figure that Ruth Asawa was, because I bet I wouldn’t have heard about her otherwise.
Profile Image for Janet.
196 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2021
I loved reading about this Japanese-American wire sculpturess in her heyday in the 1950s. She was an artist and activist for "art in the schools" and suffered with Lupus. She and her family also suffered in the Japanese internment camps (prison) in the U.S. during WWII. I only gave it 3 stars because I found myself skimming through some of it.
Profile Image for Luke.
838 reviews14 followers
March 16, 2021
Fairly dry and chronological biography from letters, papers, and interviews shortly after Asawa's passing, but what an inspiring artistic life: internment for high school, black mountain college with Albers and Fuller, sexism and racism overcome in pursuing fine art from her family-driven path and material exploration.
Profile Image for J Earl.
1,783 reviews68 followers
June 15, 2020
Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa by Marilyn Chase is a phenomenal work of biography and history (art and United States).

I came to this book because I admire Asawa's art and wanted to learn more about her. I expected to gain some appreciation for who she was but did not expect to be moved to the extent I was. I almost don't know where to begin discussing this book.

Ruth Asawa had a life that tested her at every turn. That is probably true, to some extent, of every life, it is the moments in our lives and how we respond to them that test us and make us who we are. Asawa, however, endured things that could easily have broken her, or made her bitter and hateful, or simply made her shut down. Yet through everything she tended to find a positive way to deal with and move through each ordeal.

I found the entire life story compelling but, because of my interests and old friends, I was particularly moved by her experience of the World War II concentration camps the US government set up to jail (contain) many of its own citizens. The ability to both be present in the moment (school, letter writing on behalf of her father, art instruction) and move into the future (going to teacher's college, a trip to Mexico) shows an amazing degree of strength. To also come out of the experience without a long and abiding hatred of all things American is more than I think I would have been able to do. To then work toward making the world a better place for future generations is the stuff of movies.

Chase writes about this life with both a keen eye and a compassionate heart. The details and research is astounding yet the narrative of Asawa's life never gets bogged down in detail. Rather, it is enhanced by being able to connect more of the dots. I can't speak highly enough about how well written and organized this biography is.

I highly recommend this book to readers of biography, this is a wonderful example of the genre. Also any readers of art or art history books will find a lot of interesting information here. Finally, those interested in US history will appreciate this as a work of historical importance because of the efforts Asawa made to reunite her family during WWII and the response (or lack thereof) of government officials.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
193 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2020
A number of years ago someone introduced me to the work of Ruth Asawa, because my knit wire sculptures reminded them of hers. It was difficult to find much information about Asawa, but shortly after learning of her, I happened upon her breathtaking exhbition in the new education wing of the De Young Museum in San Francisco. And more recently, I happened to be in New York when David Zwirner Gallery was giving her first NYC solo show she had had in several decades. I bought the book/catalog and an updated version, and over the years have read the sparse amount of information available about her. A highly private individual, source material indicated she had been an interned Japanese American during WWII, had the life changing experience of attending Black Mountain College then had focused her life on maintaining her studio practice around the demands of a family with six children, and was heavily involved in art education in the Bay Area. In my readings, she was portrayed as a hardworking generous individual who eschewed labeling or allegiance as an internment victim, as an Asian American who experienced racist slurs, or as a groundbreaking woman artist. One never got an interior sense of who the person was inside this dedicated artist

Marilyn Chase’s 2020 captivating biography of Asawa sated my hunger to know the emotions, beliefs, and life experiences that shaped this remarkable artist. Through access to Ruth Asawa’s journals, letters, and other personal papers that her family bequeathed to Stanford University, along with other thorough research and contact with her family, Chase writes a stellar portrait of this extraordinary individual. The humanity, strength, love of family, personal pain, and artistic manifesto are wonderfully revealed in this excellent biography. Marvelous details of her well known artist relationships such as with the Albers and Bucky Fuller, and the intricacies of her diverse art processes and practices depict the life the life of a woman who lived her art in everything she did.

Full of images I hadn’t previously seen, the book thrilled me visually as well as with its clear, engaging writing. I love the art if Ruth Asawa; I love this book; and now I love the person Ruth Asawa and hold her as a model of the artist ‘s life.

Run out and buy a copy of this book and more Ruth Asawa stamps
Profile Image for Anne.
372 reviews
November 18, 2021
Ruth Asawa, an artist who turned the concept of the wire imprisoning her in a WWII internment camp in Arkansas into hanging sculptures floating freely in the air, moves through this book as a powerhouse, a woman of purpose who let no obstacles deter her. Racism prevented her from becoming an art teacher. Despite having no money she found her way to Black Mountain College. Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller became her lifetime mentors. She married a white southerner. They moved to San Francisco and married a year after the California Supreme Court determines interracials marriages were legal. Their families' objections waned in the face of her determination. Patience, Endurance, Restraint. What's done is done. Move forward. They were the rules of her upbringing and move forward she did. She raised 6 children, rallied neighbours and fellow artists to browbeat the San Francisco School District to upgrade its art offerings and start a High School for the Arts. She served on numerous state and city boards, all with the purpose of advancing art and artists' teaching. Chase's book starts off rather slowly and the writing doesn't inspire but Asawa gets going in her amazing life and the writing follows suit. The biography honours a creative soul and a leader. The talented book designers at Chronicle Books have turned out another winner. The layout honors the grace of the artist and includes many photographs of the family and the artwork.
Profile Image for Lucy.
105 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2021
Usually before I read a book about an artist I can answer some basic questions about them but that was not the case with Ruth Asawa. I had seen some of her wire work but that was really the extent of my knowledge. But her life encompassed so much more than just her wire sculptures. (And they are so unusual that it seems crazy to use the word “just”) The stories of her parents and childhood encompass the racism and prejudice toward Japanese Americans in the 40s. Her journey into adulthood and her determination to become an artist. Her marriage (unusual for the time) and style of child rearing. Her interest in all kinds of art materials and then her impact on art education in San Francisco. The more I learned of her life journey the more I wanted to know.

This is a hard book to “rate.” I read an ebook version from the library and the layout in that version became distorted which may have impacted my feelings about the writing. The writing was weaker than I would have liked (sometimes disjointed and confusing in details) but Ruth Asawa’s life story is so compelling that this is a book that should be more widely read. She, her story, and her art should be more widely known.
Profile Image for Alice.
95 reviews
May 24, 2021
I loved this book because I love Ruth Asawa. I’ve loved her art and now, after reading this book and learning about her life, I’m in awe of her life.

This book spans Ruth’s early life on a farm in California, internment in Arkansas during WWII, her time at Black Mountain Collage and her life as a working artist and arts education activist and mother of six.

I loved it all. My favorite parts were defiantly the Black Mountain College chapters. Her relationships with Joseph Albers and Buckminster Fuller were beautifully explored. It felt exciting.

I gave it 4 stars because there were some parts of the book that seems rushed. I wish there was more on her years post Black Mountain but before activism and public commissions. How she really came to the woven wire, how she experimented, etc. wasn’t really explored except for how she learned the technique in Mexico. The exploration of the art was a missing piece for me. The writer is a journalist, I think, and I wish she had brought a bit more love and knowledge of art to the work. Overall though, I definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Cecilia.
135 reviews
December 12, 2021
Wonderful biography of the life and art of American artist Ruth Asawa (1926-2013). This well-written book begins with her life on the busy family truck farm in California where Ruth worked alongside her many siblings helping her hard-working immigrant parents on the farm. She enjoyed her time spent at school where she displayed both interest and talent in art. The book moves on to the WWII years when, at age 16, she is a horrified witness to her father being arrested and sent to prison. Life for Ruth and her mother and siblings changes abruptly as they were subsequently sent to an internment camp in Arkansas.

How Ruth dealt with these blows is a lesson in strength and courage. How she continued to pursue creating her own art and advocate for great art education is fascinating as well. Difficulties abound that would stop most people. Today her artwork is becoming nationally and internationally known. Ruth was honored during her lifetime for her work advocating for art education in the public schools. Recommend.
Profile Image for Alessia.
218 reviews19 followers
March 23, 2020
**Thanks to Netgalley for give me the ebook in exchange for an onest opinion**

Since I saw the cover of this book I felt a sense of melancholy. Ruth Asawa is Japanese-American Nisei (second-generation American) that during WWII felt all the terrifyng fear and experienced for herself the practice of being interned. Ruth had studied art at Black Mountain College, married a white man and continued to make a name for herself in USA. She raised six children, founding a high school dedicated to the arts, or pursuing her own practice independent of the New York art market.

I liked the setting of the book: a mix of prose, quotes by Ruth, photo of her life and her arts.
It has a great impact on me. The discover of new hole life, an amazing artist, a woman who don't want to give up. She gave me a new power, like a fire that grow in my body.

This book is for people who love art, woman history, autobiography and feminism.
Profile Image for Irenka.
54 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2021
I am so thankful for Marylin Chase to have written this very powerful and so thoroughly documented biography of Ruth Asawa. The focus on her incredible life, showing her unwavering work and social ethic, is inspiring and illuminating. I loved that the book is constantly quoting Asawa's letters and correspondence, as a work in progress artist myself I craved to see more of her art journal notes, but that might not have been for everyone. I really appreciated how Chase added some (not many, but important) notes in her own voice (i.e. to name sexism reflected in a quote, even if the author of the quote, at the time the words were said, would not have seen it). I found that the book was not properly copyedited, there were a couple of mistakes and sentences that were repeated. I found the writing of the book a bit off, sometimes providing details or names when it didn't feel necessary. But other than that, I enjoyed this book so greatly and would recommend it to anyone!
Profile Image for Susan.
1,791 reviews17 followers
May 14, 2021
I discovered that I have been an unwitting admirer of Ruth Asawa for quite a few years. I lived in the City at the time that Ghirardelli Square opened and was charmed from the beginning by her mermaid fountain and I have walked by the fountain at the Hyatt many times, always stopping to take in the carvings. I was not familiar with her woven wire sculptures, which are even more impressive. Perhaps what was most extraordinary about Ruth Asawa was her sheer energy – a groundbreaking artist, mother of six children, social activist and dynamic advocate for arts education. She even made an argument that public art installations should be designed first and then allocated the necessary budget! The writing is clear and evocative and the author conducted extensive research and had access to a large selection of photos.
175 reviews
January 10, 2021
I was attracted by my desire to learn more about Ruth Asawa’s amazing woven wire sculptures, but this book opened my eyes to so many more incredible facets of her life. From Southern California agriculture history, the Japanese internment camps, post-war discrimination, all kinds of discrimination, Black Mountain College, the San Francisco art world, parenting, work/ child balance, making a difference in schools, public art, how to foster a community and how to participate in government. And more I’m sure I’m missing. I love that she considered her biggest contribution to be the schools and educational outreach - it certainly makes a mountain of difference. I look forward to visiting San Francisco and tracking down her fountains.
Profile Image for Misa.
960 reviews
January 22, 2023
An amazing biography about a great woman artist that I would kill for a piece of her art. I love looking at her sculptures, I love everything she had created. I don't know what this woman could not do, she was really impressive.
Asawa's life is so inspiring, she went through so many hardships during her young and adult life from sickness to Interment campbut to segregation and so more but she never gave up, on the contrary, it was what made her so passionate, hardworking and such a loving person who always believed in the power of art in healing souls. She wanted to pass her love of art to the young generation and she did in many ways. It was her legacy.
This was such a detailed and a well-written biography I have read.
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