Marilyn Chase shares how she stepped into the world of artist Ruth Asawa, in her new book Everything She Touched, The Life of Ruth Asawa. Chase spent a year and a half digging through hundreds of boxes of letters, writings and drawings carefully saved by Asawa. This was augmented by countless days interviewing Asawa's friends and family members to create a fascinating portrait of the artist. Calling Ruth a hero, Chase wrote that Asawa “is living proof that creativity heals, informs and ennobles life.”
Asawa was a famed artist and arts activist. Her public sculptures adorn the city of San Francisco, and her collections of works on paper and sculptures can be found around the country. While celebrated as a sculptor, her training was in basic design and drawing. The child of immigrant Japanese farmers, Asawa and her family were incarcerated in a prison camp in Rohwer, Arkansas during World War II, separated from her father who was sent to a Department of Justice prison in New Mexico. Asawa would go on to study at the experimental liberal arts college, Black Mountain College, in rural North Carolina. This was a transformative time for her. Most influential was her teacher Josef Albers. From him, the concepts of experience and experimentation seeped into Asawa’s being. Besides creating art, Asawa founded the Alvarado School Arts Workshop with fellow parent, Sally Woodbridge. The innovative arts program spread through the city’s public schools, and Asawa then founded the first public arts high school on the West Coast, San Francisco’s School of the Arts, in 1982. In 2010, the school was named in her honor. This past summer, the U.S Postal Service released a stamp set featuring her wire sculptures and the artist.
Chase is an acclaimed author, long-time health science reporter and columnist for the Wall Street Journal and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley’s journalism school.
Presented by the San Francisco History Center of the San Francisco Public Library.