The United States Postal Service is honoring Ruth Asawa with a series of ten stamp designs featuring the artist’s signature wire sculptures, as well as a photograph of Asawa taken by Nat Farbman for Life magazine in 1954. To buy the stamps, go to USPS.com
Born in rural California in 1926, Asawa is best known for her looped-wire sculptures, which challenge conventional notions of material and form. She began creating the light, transparent works in the late 1940s while a student at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she was influenced in particular by her teachers Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller. “I found myself experimenting with wire,’’ Asawa explained: “I was interested in the economy of a line, enclosing three-dimensional space.... I realized that I could make wire forms interlock, expand, and contract with a single strand, because a line can go anywhere.’’
In addition to her wire sculptures, Asawa is well known for her public commissions, particularly in San Francisco and the wider Bay Area. These include the much beloved fountains in Ghirardelli Square (1968) and outside the Grand Hyatt San Francisco (1973). Upon moving to San Francisco in 1949, Asawa, a firm believer in the radical potential of arts education from her time at Black Mountain College, devoted herself to expanding access to art-focused educational programs. She co-founded the Alvarado Arts Workshop in 1968 and was instrumental in the opening of the first public arts high school in San Francisco in 1982, which was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in her honor in 2010.
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