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Ruth Asawa School of the Arts
"Art is for everybody. It is not something that you should have to go to the museums in order to see and enjoy. When I work on big projects, such as a fountain, I like to include people who haven't yet developed their creative side—people yearning to let their creativity out.”
The documentary “Ruth Asawa: Roots of an Artist” tells the story of renowned artist and great-grandmother Ruth Asawa. As a young child Ms. Asawa and her family, along with other Japanese Americans, were undeservedly ordered into internment camps. There she met Disney animators and artists who took the time to teach her to draw. Ruth never forgot the kindness shown to her in the camp by the artists and she took away from it the importance of teaching art to children. As an adult she has been a tireless supporter of teaching art in public schools, volunteering her time even as she worked as an artist and raised six children.
San Francisco’s School of the Arts (SOTA) was recently named for Ms. Asawa. Two Kelly Ann Brown Foundation board members toured the school and found it inspiring and were amazed to learn that part of the art curriculum includes their Artists-in-Residence program. SOTA employs more than sixty artists a year, providing working artists with opportunities to teach the next generation of artists. There are nine departments with specific focuses on different areas of the arts. KABF board members went into several classrooms and saw, first-hand, high schoolers drawing, painting, singing opera, and acting. They were also impressed by how polite and respectful the students were and noticed their close relationships to their teachers and Principal Sgarlato, who knew each student by name! The students also were kind and gracious to one another. During the opera class, as the students sang and skipped together, one girl tripped over another student’s foot and as she began to fall, he gently held her arm until she regained her balance—a sweet and lovely moment.
Children and art both played important parts in Kelly Ann Brown’s life. She was passionate about the arts and majored in art history. Above all, children were most important to her. The KABF board felt that a grant that benefits children in the arts was a wonderful way to honor both Kelly and Ruth Asawa, whose love of art education grew into a desire to incorporate the arts as a daily practice into the public school system and helped create a school focused primarily on the arts.
KABF gave the grant in Ms. Asawa’s name to honor all of her work: as an artist, a teacher, a mother, a grandmother and great-grandmother. KABF received a beautifully made card from recycled paint chips created by one of Ms. Asawa’s daughters. Inside, Ms. Asawa and her family wrote:
"We are happy to hear that you were able to tour Ruth Asawa SOTA and came away with a greater knowledge about the school and its culture. It is an amazing place to learn and the talent is incredible. Thank you for honoring Ruth by giving the school a generous grant. We are touched by the Kelly Ann Brown Foundation’s support of young artists who are being encouraged to follow their passion in the arts. We hope you will visit the school to see students perform. They are wonderful students!
With warm regards,
The Asawa-Lanier Family and Ruth"
Click here to learn more about Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco.
Click here to learn more about Ruth Asawa.