Untitled, S.446 (Hanging,
Seven Lobed Single-Layer Continuous Form),
Looped brass wire
78 x 14 x 14 inches
Ruth Asawa’s parents immigrated from Japan at the turn of the century and operated a farm in California, where Asawa worked as a child. During World War II the Asawas were sent with thousands of other Japanese American families to internment camps. Asawa first practiced art and design during high school while interned in Arkansas. She later enrolled in Black Mountain College, studying with Josef Albers and experimenting with wire sculpture. After a trip to Mexico in 1947, Asawa applied techniques of Mexican basket makers to her interest in sculpture, resulting in a series of hanging mobiles constructed of thin, yet durable metal wires that she considered three-dimensional drawings.
Untitled, S. 446 is an exceptional example of Asawa’s hanging orbs. Its hollow, transparent shape challenges traditional ideas of sculpture as a solid mass: light permeates the looped wires and transforms the space surrounding the object. Its undulating and irregular shapes varies in appearance according to the viewer’s position. Asawa’s spiritually arresting sculptures were widely celebrated during her career; she received her first solo show in New York in 1954 and was later included in the Whitney Museum’s annual exhibitions.