2021 HoMA Book Club Reading List
Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asawa by Marilyn Chase
October 27 & 30
Discussion led by HoMA Docent: Karen Ley
The Life of Ruth Asawa by Marilyn Chase chronicles the improbable, inspirational life of a unique and unusual artist.
Although she was interned as a teenager with her Japanese American family during World War II Ruth Asawa went on to attend the idealistic Black Mountain College where her talent was fostered by former Bauhaus teacher Josef Albers. The story of her dedication to an artistic vision, creating an intricately crafted sculpture of surpassing beauty and originality as well the story of her devotion to family and community are told in this fascinating biography.
In recalling her internment as a teenager during World War Two, Ruth Asawa wrote “Facts are more fantastic than fantasy.” After reading this biography of the artist, it would seem that the observation could apply to her life as a whole. As in a novel, fortuitous events follow calamitous events in a seemingly miraculous way.
1). Which of the transformative events of Ruth’s early life was especially interesting or surprising to learn about?
In writing about Black Mountain College Ruth said “ I signed up for Josef Albers’ Design and Color classes and another world opened up for me.” The world of Black Mountain College with its ideals of democracy, collaboration and equality, a radical experiment in arts education, would attract artists and thinkers from many disciplines and prove to be crucial to her evolution as an artist.
2). Are there artists among those mentioned as students or teachers at Black Mountain about whom you would like to know more?
Writing about her looped wire sculptures, Ruth states: “I was interested in the economy of a line enclosing three dimensional space…I realized that I could make wire forms interlock, expand and contract with a single strand because a line can go anywhere.” Between that vision and a finished sculpture lay a prodigious amount of sheer manual labor, the coaxing of a coil of industrial metal wire into a seemingly weightless transparent form of lyrical beauty.
3). How do you experience hanging wire sculptures? What do you think or feel when looking at them?
In addition to the vision which informed her personal practice of art, Ruth Asawa had an equally important vision of what it meant to be an artist within a family, within a community and within the world and to insure that the making of and the appreciation of art would be available to every person. To this end she devoted tremendous energy over many years as an art advocate and art activist in San Francisco and the Bay Area.
4). Is there a short passage from her writings or interviews you would like to share that exemplifies the humanitarian principles by which Ruth Asawa lived her extraordinary life as a “citizen of the universe”?
A Short Life of Trouble: Forty years In The New York Art World by Marcia Tucker
December 1 & 4
Discussion led by HoMA Docent: Lizzy Lowrey
A Short Life of Trouble brings to vivid life the behind-the-scenes struggles of Marcia Tucker, the first woman to be hired as a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the founder of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.
Tucker came of age in the 1960s, and this spirited account of her life draws the reader directly into the burgeoning feminist movement and the excitement of the New York art world during that time.
“I have always considered that there are two basic reasons for doing an exhibition: The first is to illustrate and share with the public something one has discovered, that is, something already known. The second is to discover or explore something which is unknown in order to find out for yourself what it is about.” Marcia Tucker
Registration coming soon.
2022 HoMA Book Club Reading List
Kona Winds by Scott Kikkawa
January 26 & 29
Discussion led by HoMA Docent: Lynn Hiyakumoto
Kona Winds, the début novel by Japanese-American author Scott Kikkawa, is a hard-boiled noir murder mystery set in Honolulu in 1953, when Hawai‘i was evolving from a racially stratified, near-feudal plantation colony to the multi-ethnic 50th State.
Honolulu Police Department Detective Sergeant Frankie “The Sheik” Yoshikawa, a Nisei veteran of World War II, is assigned the case of a young local Japanese woman whose body is found in Honolulu Harbor under a pier. His investigation uncovers dark motives tied to a recent dock and sugar strike and a forbidden relationship between the scion of a prominent kamaʻāina haole family and a young woman from a growing immigrant community. Hindered by the limitations of race and class and haunted by the specter of his combat experiences in Europe and his resulting dependence on alcohol, Yoshikawa nonetheless resolves to bring the case to a successful conclusion.
Hawai‘i has been the setting for countless mysteries but most have been cozy crime stories or books that have featured Caucasian protagonists as outsiders in an exotic setting. Kona Winds was written with the firm belief that Hawai‘i is more than just a pretty tropical backdrop for the mischief of tourists: it can be, and was, a terrifying, sometimes sodden place whose social realities were ugly not so long ago and continue in some respects to go unresolved. In addition, the novel provides a well-researched glimpse into the police work of post-war Honolulu, which has rarely been written about in this way before.” – Bamboo Ridge Press
Registration coming soon.
The History of Love by Nichole Krauss
February 23 & 26
Discussion led by HoMA Docents Hannah Slovin and Andrea Snyder
Registration coming soon.