Ruth Asawa: An Artist Takes Shape

“This retelling in comic book form of Ruth Asawa’s formative early years documents the genesis of the Japanese-US artist who has been the subject of numerous institutional shows in recent years, including Modern Art Oxford in 2022.”
—Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper

“An inspiring, beautifully rendered book about an artistic dream that came true.”
—Kirkus Reviews

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.

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.

Ages thirteen and up.

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

112 pages
7 x 9 inches
13 color photographs and b/w illustrations throughout
ISBN 978-1-947440-09-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Publications

“Tenderly illustrated. . . . By March 1942, the family begins to burn anything and everything that might denote their Japanese heritage, from kimonos and family photos to books on flower arranging and even the addresses of relatives in Japan. . . . Nakahira poignantly illustrates this harrowing experience, which thousands of Japanese Americans faced during World War II. But she also balances the darkness with moments of joy that those who have faced such atrocities are lucky to find in order to keep going.”
—Maximilíano Durón, Art in America

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“Illuminating graphic novel debut.”
—Publishers Weekly

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View a timeline of Asawa’s life >