Ruth Asawa was a California sculptor known for her elaborate woven pieces. Her filigree sculptures were woven out of brass, enameled copper, black and white iron, and wire. Interned as a child during World War II, she was taught how to draw by three interned animators from Walt Disney Studios. She attended Black Mountain College for three years and studied painting with Josef Albers.
Asawa had started exploring wire as an artistic medium after a trip to Toluca, Mexico in 1947 when she noticed the looped wire baskets, woven by Mexican women to carry eggs and produce. She took the technique back to Black Mountain and made it her own, first through abstract wire baskets and then in 1949 through suspended sculptures and hanging mobiles.
In 1968, she created her first representational work for a fountain in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, which had two mermaids, splashing water, and a recording of croaking frogs. She designed other public fountains and became known as the “fountain lady.” Asawa’s wire sculptures have been shown in countless museums and are in the collections of the Guggenheim and Whitney Museum in New York.