DrawTogether with WendyMac
DrawTogether with WendyMac
#12 Drawing in the Air with Ruth Asawa

#12 Drawing in the Air with Ruth Asawa

A mindful drawing exercise based on Ruth Asawa's wire weaving

Hellllloooo! Happy Friday. It’s been less than a week since DrawTogether was featured on PBS NewsHour, and boy did we get a great response. A big welcome to all the new folks joining us! And to our longtime DT peeps: thanks for continuing to draw, look and love with us as the DT family grows. Onwards!

Our podcast drawing today is based the work of one of my favorite artists, Ruth Asawa. We explore her magnificent light-as-air wire sculptures using shape & line/pencil & paper. (Hit that play button above - or listen on iTunes or Spotify!)

Photo by Laurence Cuneo. Artwork © 2021 Ruth Asawa Lanier, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Asawa-inspired doodle weaving loops! Grab a pencil and paper and press play!

I discuss a bit of Ruth’s work and life in the podcast, but her are a few more fun facts: Ruth Asawa was the quintessential maker. She used her HANDS and whatever materials were available. She focused as much on the process of making art as the outcome. And through all the changes and chapters in her life, she kept making art.

Ruth and her family were unjustly placed in a Japanese American internment camp during World War 2, and she kept on creating. She went on to study at the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and travelled to Mexico to see Diego Rivera’s murals and painting first hand. There, a local artisan taught her a basket weaving technique that became the basis for her wire sculptures.

Here are some traditional weaving techniques that look similar to Ruth’s wire work, and the drawing we do on today’s podcast.

Looks a lot like our drawing today, doesn't it? This is from a 1935 article by Daniel Sutherland Davidson, “Knotless Netting in America and Oceana”

And here’s a photo of Ruth weaving a wire sculpture based on technique she learned in Mexico. Or rather, here’s a photo of Ruth drawing in the air:

Photo © Imogen Cunningham Trust. Artwork © Ruth Asawa Lanier, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Ruth worked constantly. She was always folding paper, drawing on scratch paper, or looping wire… so you can imagine what life was like given she had six kids (!) always hoping for her attention. BIG NEWS: I’m interviewing Ruth Asawa’s son, Paul Lanier (a teaching artist himself) about growing up in a creative home and cultivating creativity in young people. I’ll share conversation with subscribers in the days ahead. If you’d like access to features like this, please support/subscribe here:

Parents: can you imagine being a caregiver of 6 *and* such a prolific artist? Paul will give us a little insight in our subscriber newsletter. Photo by Imogen Cunningham © ESTATE OF RUTH ASAWA

“An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.” Ruth Asawa wove different techniques, cultures, identities and experiences into a tremendous life and body of work that continues to contribute so much to our creative humanity. She made, taught and tirelessly advocated for arts education. She drew in the air. Thank you Ruth Asawa.

I’d love to see your Ruth Asawa inspired drawings. After you listen to the podcast, take a photo and post it on instagram and tag @drawtogether.studio, and we’ll share it with the community.

Pencils up, friends. Everything is better when we DrawTogether.


ps - You can now listen to the DrawTogether Podcast on iTunes and Spotify! Please subscribe over there and share it out with your friends. We appreciate it. <3

DrawTogether with WendyMac
DrawTogether with WendyMac
The world's first drawing podcast! Drawing teacher Wendy Mac offers a bite-sized, no-experience-required interactive art adventure - all you need is a piece of paper and pen. We learn about art and artists and some drawing skills, while building curiosity, confidence and connection. For kids (of all ages.) https://club.drawtogether.studio