“Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa” by Marilyn Chase (Chronicle Books)
Born in California in 1926, Ruth Asawa grew from a farmer’s daughter into a celebrated sculptor. She survived an adolescence in the Japanese American internment camps during World War II, attended the groundbreaking art school at Black Mountain College, fought through lupus, and revolutionized arts education in her adopted hometown of San Francisco.
She forged an unconventional path in everything she did – whether raising a multiracial family of six children, founding a high school dedicated to the arts, or pursuing her own practice independent of the New York art market. Her beloved fountains are now San Francisco icons, and her signature hanging-wire sculptures grace the MoMA, de Young, SFMOMA, Whitney and many more museums and galleries across America.
In this compelling biography, Marilyn Chase brings Asawa’s story to vivid life. She draws on Asawa’s extensive archives and weaves together many voices – family, friends, teachers, and critics – to offer a complex and fascinating portrait of the artist. With photographs and artworks reproduced throughout the book, this is a richly visual volume that invites readers to step inside Asawa’s story.
“Art world recognition for Ruth Asawa keeps climbing higher and, now, ‘Everything She Touched’ by Marilyn Chase arrives to tell Asawa’s amazing life story. Full of documents and fantastic photos — especially those of Imogen Cunningham — we can admire the magic of her sculpture and beauty as a person.” — Harry S. Parker III, former director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Chase was born in Los Angeles, attending public school as a nerd in the sun-struck surf, sports and car culture of Southern California. Graduating with honors in English literature from Stanford University, she earned a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.
After more than two decades as a reporter and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, focusing on health science, she returned to independent writing and teaching. She has taught narrative writing at Stanford, as well as news, health, business and narrative writing as a continuing lecturer for her grad school at UC Berkeley.
Her previous book, “The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco,” told the struggle of a young public health doctor to quell an outbreak of bubonic plague and treat patients in the city’s Chinatown in 1900 against backdrop of virulent racism, scapegoating and epidemic cover-up by politicians and big business.