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The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air - Audio Tour

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Art and the Complexity of Ethnic Identity

Narrator: Karin Higa, Senior Curator of Art, Japanese American National Museum

Transcription

In many ways, Ruth Asawa is a typical Japanese American Nisei, the child of immigrants who came to the United States to carve out a better life for themselves and their children. But her life and art are most significant because they remind us how complex ethnic identity can be. During World War II, like all Japanese Americans on the west coast, Ruth was incarcerated with her mother and siblings. Her father was subject to a segregated Justice Department prison camp. It would be years before they were reunited. His crime, he was a community leader. Yet, the experience of the World War II incarceration ironically made it possible for Ruth to meet Japanese American artists, to attend college on a scholarship, and ultimately led her to become an artist. So, while Ruth’s Japanese American heritage foreclosed some opportunities - for instance she couldn’t become a high school art teacher as she intended - it also created others. At every step in her life, Ruth Asawa defied convention and stereotype, including marrying Albert Lanier, a man of European American heritage, despite the fact that both their parents had strong misgivings. In the process, Ruth Asawa became a role model of a woman, mother and Japanese American, who was also an artist, teacher and civic leader.

Based on this original

The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air - Audio Tour Clip #11: Importance to Japanese American community
uploaded by eishida
This is an audio clip from a cell phone tour by Guide by Cell to accompany the exhibition The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air at … More »


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