Great Woman Artist Ruth Asawa gets her own set of stamps

The 2020 set of 10 postage stamp designs showcases the wiry work of the American sculptor
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The new Ruth Asawa stamps. Image courtesy of USPS.com
The new Ruth Asawa stamps. Image courtesy of USPS.com

Ruth Asawa was not always a highly prized US citizen. As our book Great Women Artists explains, “the child of Japanese immigrants, Asawa and her family were interned with other Japanese-Americans in 1942–3 in Santa Anita, California, and Rohwer, Arkansas.”

However, it was during her stay in that internment camp that Asawa took up drawing, “under the guidance of fellow internee Disney illustrators.”

Her tutors were a little more highbrow from 1946 to 1949, when she attended the influential Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she studied under Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller; during this period she also ventured south of the border, to find fresh inspiration among folk artists.

“Inspired by a 1947 trip to Mexico during which she observed a local craftsman weaving baskets in wire, Asawa began to work with wire as her primary medium,” our book goes on to explain. “In their innovative use of material and form, her wire sculptures, which she continued to elaborate over the course of her lifetime, synthesize a wide range of aesthetic preoccupations at the heart of twentieth-century abstraction and challenge conventional notions of sculpture through their emphasis on lightness and transparency.”

 

The full set of 20 stamps, and the set's selvage margin, featuring a photograph of Asawa taken by Nat Farbman in 1954 for Life magazine
The full set of 20 stamps, and the set's selvage margin, featuring a photograph of Asawa taken by Nat Farbman in 1954 for Life magazine

Now this unique American artist, who passed away in 2013, is the recipient of that quintessential American honour: a series of illustrated USPS stamps. The set of 20 stamps feature 10 works by the artist, shot by Asawa’s long-standing collaborator, Laurence Cuneo, and by the NYC art photographer, Dan Bradica. They’re available to order from 13 August, find out more here.

 

Great Women Artists

Meanwhile, for more on this artist and her place in art history, order a copy of , Great Women Artists  here.


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