Untitled (S.379, Hanging Single-Lobed, Four-Layered Continuous Form within a Form)
Untitled is one of Ruth Asawa’s many biomorphic (based on naturally occurring forms or patterns) sculptures. What is striking about Asawa’s suspended sculptures is how soft and flexible they appear, despite the fact that the material Asawa is using is metal wire. Upon closer inspection, viewers can see that Asawa works with one continuous string of wire and nests the multiple forms of the sculpture within itself.
Asawa’s sculptures are also striking because of their organic qualities. The way the wire loops into itself, creating seamless layers of the woven wire, suggests a womb, holding life within its curved but sturdy walls. The contrast between the tough materiality of metal wire and the textural pliability of the sculpture’s form manages to be both stark and effortless.
Asawa’s use of wire also lends itself to fantastical shadow play. This is because Asawa’s sculptures hold a distinct duality: they are simultaneously enclosed and transparent. The enclosed quality of her sculptures afford them their own personal, independent space, while the see-through nature of the wire allows viewers into their interiors and beyond. To see light pass through the sculpture further allows the viewer to appreciate the artwork as an organic lifeform: the individual wire, looping inside itself, gently creates an almost breathing form.
Asawa has stated that she draws from the memories of her childhood and her family’s fruit and vegetable farm as influences on her artistry. Other influences from her youth are less idyllic; in her adolescence, she was among many Japanese Americans held in internment camps during World War II. It was there that Hutchinson had the opportunity to learn how to draw from three professional animators. Later in life, Asawa received training at the famous Black Mountain College, an experimental institution with many of its students and faculty eventually receiving critical acclaim for their respective artistries. Asawa learned her particular wire weaving technique on a trip to Toluca, Mexico in 1947 where a local craftsman taught her how to weave egg baskets from wire.
Artist: Ruth Asawa
Title: Untitled (S.379, Hanging Single-Lobed, Four-Layered Continuous Form within a Form)
Date: ca. 1970s
Medium: Copper wire
Dimension: 13 in.; diameter: approx. 16 in.
Collection: The Buck Collection at the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art
Copyright: © Estate of Ruth Asawa