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Ruth Asawa as Known by Her Daughter, Aiko Cuneo at the Museum on August 28

The Asheville Art Museum is pleased to announce a Special Art Break featuring Aiko Cuneo who will be giving a presentation on artist Ruth Asawa, her mother, on Friday, August 28, 2009 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Aiko Cuneo, daughter of Ruth Asawa, received her BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Influenced by her mother’s devotion to arts in education and sense of experimentation, Aiko works as an artist-in-schools and uses a variety of mediums in her own work. She worked with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for three years, cataloguing and preparing work for Asawa’s 2006 retrospective and exhibition catalogue there, The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa, Contours in the Air.

“Aiko Cuneo is, herself, a successful artist, impassioned arts educator and tireless advocate for art in the schools. Like Ruth, Aiko believes deeply in the value of art education and gives generously of her time to elementary schools in San Francisco. She trained at Pratt in sculpture and is well qualified to conserve her mother’s work. She will give us a truly up-close and personal look at Ruth Asawa and her life as an artist,” says Cole Hendrix, curator of the exhibition Ruth Asawa: Drawing in Space.

This Art Break is held in conjunction with the exhibition Ruth Asawa: Drawing in Space opening at the Museum Saturday, September 19, 2009 and on view through Sunday, February 7, 2010. The public is invited to an Opening Reception Friday, September 25, 2009 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Art Break, Opening Reception and admission to the exhibition are all free with Museum Membership or admission.

Ruth Asawa was born in 1926 in Norwalk, California, the fourth of seven children born to Japanese immigrant farmers. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, her family was interned in New Mexico and Arkansas. She attended Milwaukee State Teachers College from 1943 to 1946. In 1946, she enrolled at Black Mountain College. There she studied with Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller and Ilya Bolotowsky. Asawa’s philosophy that “there is no separation between studying, performing the daily chores of living and creating one’s own work” permeates a life and a career that has combined success as an artist, a mother of six and a community advocate for arts education in elementary schools.

The unique career of Asawa (1926- ), an artist whose looped-wire sculptures and richly detailed drawings defied traditional conventions is celebrated in the Asheville Art Museum exhibition, Ruth Asawa: Drawing in Space. The exhibition begins with the her earliest sculptures, drawings and paintings created while at Black Mountain College and highlights several signature sculptures that formed her later visual vocabulary of looped and tied open forms. This exhibition considers Asawa’s connection to Western North Carolina and Black Mountain College as it places her work within a larger national context of artists who “viewed art as a way of thinking and acting.”

Asawa’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Asheville Art Museum, the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, and the Oakland Museum of California, where one of her tied-wire sculptures adorns the entrance. She has received numerous awards, and has served on the San Francisco Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, the John D. Rockefeller Foundation’s Council for Museum Education in the Visual Arts and the board of the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

(Images provided by the Asheville Art Museum.)

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