Sam Nakahira with Jeremy Chen- Ruth Asawa An Artist Takes Shape

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Sam Nakahira with Jeremy Chen- Ruth Asawa An Artist Takes Shape

April 2 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Event date:
Tuesday, April 2, 2024 – 7:00pm

This graphic biography by Sam Nakahira, developed in consultation with Ruth Asawa’s youngest daughter, Addie Lanier, chronicles the genesis of Asawa as an artist—from the horror of Pearl Harbor to her transformative education at Black Mountain College to building her life in San Francisco, where she would further develop and refine her groundbreaking wire sculptures.  Please join us with author Sam Nakahira and Jeremy Chen, who will share Asawa’s sketchbooks and talk about Ruth Asawa: An Artist Takes Shape. Asawa never sought fame, preferring to work on her own terms: for her, art and life were one. Featuring lively illustrations and a dozen photographs of Asawa’s artwork, this graphic retelling of her young adult years demonstrates the transformative power of making art. This new graphic novel is appropriate for ages thirteen and up as well as adults.

Renowned for her innovative wire sculptures, Japanese American artist Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was a teenager in Southern California when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Japanese Americans on the West Coast were forced into camps. Asawa’s family had to abandon their farm, her father was incarcerated, and she and the rest of her family were sent to a detention center in California, and later to a concentration camp in Arkansas. Asawa nurtured her dreams of becoming an artist while imprisoned and eventually made her way to the experimental Black Mountain College in North Carolina. “A tender and thoughtful rendering of an important artist’s life. Sam Nakahira uses the power and beauty of comics to its fullest to immerse you in the mind and genius of Ruth Asawa. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it again!”—Tillie Walden, Eisner Award-winning cartoonist and illustrator

Sam Nakahira is a comic artist and cultural worker from Los Angeles. She makes comics about overlooked histories, the natural world, dreams, and more.  She is an alum of Grinnell College.

Jeremy Chen is an artist and educator with an MFA in Printmaking and specialization in Sculpture from The University of Iowa where he also earned a UI Center for the Book Arts Certificate. His individual practice often involves sculpture, print, or drawing. He also works side-by-side with other artists on collaborations such as interactive installations, performances, media, book arts. At times his work engages the public or specific communities. He is an advocate for artist-run spaces and he works closely with Public Space One a non-profit arts center in Iowa City, Iowa. He currently teaches in the Art Department at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa where he is an Assistant Professor of Art and chair of the American Studies concentration