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Ruth Asawa
(Norwalk, California, 1926 - 2013, San Francisco, California)

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Born in 1926 and raised in Southern California. Ruth Asawa was interned along with her family after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was during this time that she was introduced to art through three internees that offered art classes to children in the internment camp. After leaving the camp in 1943, she attended the Milwaukee State Teachers College and then Black Mountain college, where she studied with Josef Albers and Buckminster Fuller. In 1968, appalled by the lack of meaningful arts instruction at the elementary school her children attended, Asawa co-founded Alvarado Arts Workshop to bring practicing artists into schools. Asawa has been commissioned to create public works in San Francisco including the Mermaid Fountain at Ghirardelli Square and the Hyatt Fountain in Union Square. She also completed the Japanese-American Internment Memorial Sculpture at the San Jose Federal Building. Her work has been exhibited at Bay Area Museums including the Fresno Art Museum, the Oakland Museum of California Art, and the San Jose Museum of Art. She is included in the permanent collection at the Oakland Museum of California Art. This will be the first piece by Asawa to enter SJMA’s permanent collection. (SJMA Collections Committee, 2003)

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