The Kick-About #74 ‘Ruth Asawa’

In common with our last Kick-About together, which was inspired by cephalopods (those buoyant, ballooning denizens of the deep), this latest showcase of new works made in a short time features a further array of responses to floating, globular forms – specifically to the work of Ruth Asawa. Happy browsing.

Graeme Daly

“I was reminded very much of the fluid melting magic of lava lamps and, in certain elements of Asawa’s creations, I envisioned eyes that reminded me very much of Hitchcock and Dali’s dream sequence in the film, Spellbound. My images were created from photographing melted wax accumulated on a wine bottle over a period of time, with a couple of videos of my own eyes overlaid on top to pay homage to that surreal dream sequence.” / @graemedalyart / / / /

Tom Beg

“I like the contradiction in Ruth Asawa’s art in that her sculptures appear like they are born from geometry and mathematics but are actually delicately crafted hand-made pieces made one loop at a time. The black and white photography of her artwork really imbues the sculptures with a dreamy quality I also wanted to try and capture in these images of undulating circles.” / /

Phil Gomm

“Ruth Asawa’s sculptures at once reminded me of the sorts of drawings produced by childhood Spirographs – not so much the organic shapes, but their transparency, layering, and particularly the densifying of line and mesh as the interior and exterior shapes combine. Without recourse to an abundance of thread (or time), I wondered how I might produce some kind of equivalent impression – of volume, but also some of those wonderful floating overlaps of cross-hatching and shade. Reaching for some acetate sheets, an old wooden ruler, and a permanent marker, I marked up a few of the sheets with lots of fine straight lines, then turned the sheets into funnels and cones with a square or two of Selotape holding them in place. Turns out, when you photograph these cones, something rather lovely transpires. Who’d have thought it?”

Vanessa Clegg

“Encasing what, to me, look like eggs in the sculpture of Ruth Asawa, and combining that with the trauma of the internment camp during her childhood, led me to nests (security/home), this one being empty – the cage, rust and decay. Here’s a book: ‘When the Emperor was Divine’ by Julie Otsuka, which tells the story of an American/Japanese family interned during the war. Highly recommended.” Graphite on paper with felt tip on Perspex as top layer.

Jan Blake

“I felt a sense of a kindred spirit in Ruth Asawa’s work.  The translucence of the hanging sculptures and their derivation from naturally-occurring forms echo my own interests. How curious she was exploring this media many years before and with such versatility AND she had 6 children! She puts my productivity to shame!

I have included in the images a piece I had already started – Pod – and some experiments I have been meaning to do for a while. There is an enormous Cordyline palm that grows in my garden I brought from London nearly 30 years ago as a seeding, which I’d nurtured. It has flourished, so much so it strews plentiful dead swathes of its fronds everywhere. It occurred to me last year that, apart from burning them, I could make use of them, so bundles were made as a temporary fencing, but more kept falling. I started to collect them and strip them apart as they naturally disintegrate into thin strips. It was a bit like making daisy chains as a child, easing holes that became wider to be able to thread them and so on. Soaking them made them more malleable but still tough when I tried to crochet, as Ruth Asawa had done with the metal wire. That was very tricky and needed more time to soak and make them softer to handle… however tiny nests for tiny birds appeared anyway.”

Kerfe Roig

“I went back to my tiny shibori fabric pieces and first did three circles trying to imitate her looped baskets.  I think these were pretty successful.  Then I attempted to layer circles in chain stitch to reproduce the effect of her hanging circles within circles.  I think it might have worked better if I had used one strand of floss instead of two.  But even if it doesn’t resemble Asawa’s layering that closely, it’s an interesting idea for future embroidery explorations.” /

Phil Cooper

“When I saw the Ruth Asawa prompt I immediately thought of the lampshade in our bedroom, a bulb-shaped wire structure that looks a lot like some of her sculptures. I like Asawa’s work very much and I like our lampshade so this was an opportunity to make something for the Kick-About that drew inspiration from both.

I photographed the lampshade and then put the images through the Procreate and Snapseed editing Apps. The sculptural form of the lampshade got flattened, like a Ruth Asawa construction that had been under a steamroller and then I added colour to liven it up. I ended up with what, to me, look like designs for rugs or tapestries. The Kick-About often leaves me with the feeling that, if I could clone myself and have another three lifetimes, I’d like to be a rug-maker, potter, fabric designer, film-maker etc…” / /

Charly Skilling

“I love the simplicity of line and strength of presence of Ruth Asawa’s work and have often thought about how you could achieve something similar. Asawa often uses wire to create shapes that are both sustainable and supported. I have used wire circles to support the main shape, then used balloons and pva glue to ‘encourage’ the crochet to resist gravity.  I don’t know how long my ‘sculpture’ will maintain its shape – and next time I will  spend more time on the mathematics of the shape before starting, rather than working it out as I go along. But, for all that, I have learnt a lot from this exercise and will certainly try it again.”

James Randall

“Thank you Charly for this wonderful prompt and your lovely cephalopod tale last KA. Lots of lovely works. Ruth Asawa’s gentle pieces often feel figurative to me. So I drew up some body shapes and investigated displacement mapping lines across the shapes without a great deal of success. So I turned to filling the shapes with lines that I ‘roughen’ filtered then mirrored these shapes. I layered a couple of photos to form a background then plonked a few test shapes onto the background – they looked insect-like so I kept building up shapes and played with the colours (and line angles to reference weaving) on the rich blue greeen background (which I kept changing). Finally I thought the colour mix needed a dash of yellow green in the background so I combined a few big shapes and filled them with diagonal lines before adding layers of dark graduations left and right to keep the people bugs a bit more contained.”

Gary Thorne

“Amazing that wire can weave such intricate organic forms and leave your 10 digits intact. Local resources return into play for KA#74; as Asawa suggests, play enough with one material and discoveries unfold. Struggles to sway a material to bend your way however, demanded an alternative for the side weave, and to the rescue old-fashioned macrame 3mm cotton-wool twist, adding a pleasing colour. Not a basket for much more than Italian Grissini, but, as a lover of all things Italian, that’s just fine by me.”

Marion Raper

“I remembered I had made a lot of Irish crochet motifs over the years with wonderful designs from Irish patterns inspired by roses, shamrocks, ferns and leaves. I didn’t want to use PVA to stiffen them so I decided to weave some very fine wire around the edges so I could bend them into some unusual shapes.  This proved a rather tricky business, but when I photographed them hanging in the sunlight they appeared like a small delicate chandelier.”

And to mark the occasion of our 75th prompt, I’m inviting you to one hell of a party…

11 thoughts on “The Kick-About #74 ‘Ruth Asawa’

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