Asawa's Paper Web session 2

Dec 18, 2023

This two-part course held in conjunction with Ruth Asawa Through Line explores Ruth Asawa’s drawing practice through her nature-inspired abstractions and the experimental teaching methods of Black Mountain College. Inspired by teachers Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, and mathematician Max Dehn, Asawa’s drawings emerge from her attention to patterns in the natural world. These biomorphic forms—drawn in notebooks and sketchbooks, printed on broad buckling sheets, or made entirely out of folded paper—were not simple exercises to hone her artistic technique. For Asawa, these forms, often inspired by botanical specimens, conveyed peace, harmony, continuity, and universal connection, in contrast to the breakages and horrors of World War II. In this course, we will look at how Asawa continued to explore and develop these artistic exercises throughout her life, contextualizing her paper art and famous hanging wire sculptures within the burgeoning biomorphic art movement in the 1940s and 1950s. Ultimately, we consider how Asawa’s unique approaches influenced a generation of contemporary artists who carry on this legacy today.