On Tuesday, April 30, Ruth Asawa was memorialized with the online tribute of a Google Doodle. Asawa is a celebrated San Francisco sculptor who already has a public high school named after her and a day each year in her honor.
The Google Doodle appeared on 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 and ended the following night at 9 p.m, also the first day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. For those 24 hours, anyone doing a Google search would see Asawa threading one of her trademark wire baskets. The search box was also illustrated in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Israel.
The logo shows Asawa kneeling on a carpet applying overhead stitching to a crochet wire basket with four more completed ones hanging alongside it, a bit like Chinese lanterns or Christmas ornaments. The unsigned color drawing was designed by Google staff artist Alyssa Winans.
Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page began the Google Doodle in 1998 when they first played around with their corporate logo to suggest they attended Burning Man. Since they began this fun and meaningful tradition, 2,000 or so doodles have been chosen and created by the Google Doodle Team.
Graduated in an Internment cap
When she was a teenager, Asawa was included in the internment of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast during World War II and began her artistic training from other internees. She graduated high school in 1943 while in an internment camp in Arkansas, which then allowed her to leave and go to college. Asawa studied at Black Mountain College in North Carolina but eventually moved to San Francisco, where she and her husband, architect Albert Lanier, raised six children.
It was Asawa’s doing that produced a public arts high school in San Francisco, founded in 1982. She was a faithful advocate of the study of the arts. Since its founding, the San Francisco School of the Arts was renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in 2010. Feb. 12 has been Ruth Asawa Day in San Francisco since 1982.
However, Asawa died at 87 in 2013. Her work continues to be represented through permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, plus several works of public art throughout San Francisco. The Doodle itself provides a biography of her life.
The Japanese American Internment Memorial Sculpture in San Jose and the Garden of Remembrance, which includes boulders representative of 10 internment camps, at San Francisco State University are just a couple of the permanent installations that memorialize her and her work.
“She was most proud of what she did in the public schools,” said her son, Paul Lanier, “and having so many people see the Google banner will draw their attention to learn more about her.”