A Life Made by Hand: The Story of Ruth Asawa by Andrea D'Aquino

A Life Made by Hand: 
The Story of Ruth Asawa

Ruth Asawa passed away in 2013 at the age of eighty-seven, leaving behind an incredible body of work as well as a legacy of art education for children in California and her hometown of San Francisco. A native Californian, Asawa was one of a family of seven that earned its living doing farm work. D'Aquino begins Asawa's story on a farm where "working with her hands was an ordinary thing to do." But, "Ruth was no ordinary person." With words and illustrations, D'Aquino shows readers how Ruth observed and engaged with the world around her, noticing and creating with anything at hand - paper, wire, even drawing in the dirt with her feet. While this information is in the back matter and not the story itself, in 1943 the Asawa family was sent to an interment camp in Arkansas, the same camp George Takei and his family were sent to. Ruth and three of her siblings were released to attend college. Asawa attended the experimental Black Mountain College, where she was taught by Buckminster Fuller and studied alongside Merce Cunningham, to name a few. During a trip to Mexico, Ruth learned from a local craftsman how to weave with wire, and her hands were never still from that moment on. D'Aquino ends her book with illustrations of some of Asawa's wire sculptures, hanging in museums and being admired and wondered over. Back matter adds more to Asawa's accomplishments. Besides working in the arts and raising six children, Asawa, who raised her family in San Francisco, worked to introduce art into public schools, founding the Alvarado School Art Workshop which evolved into the San Francisco Arts Education Project. In 1982, the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts opened and continues to thrive, allowing high school students the opportunity to devote themselves to "studying how art, academic inquiry, and authentic expression impact civic engagement and social justice in local and global communities."


Some of Ruth Asawa's works



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