In the 1950s, Asawa focused on experimenting with crocheted wire sculptures like the ones shown here. She made the sculptures at home while looking after her six young children. Asawa had learned from Josef Albers, her teacher at Black Mountain College, to experiment using commonplace materials in new and original ways. These sculptures are made from iron, copper, brass and other types of wire. Asawa considers these sculptures three-dimensional drawings. Instead of the lines moving across the paper, the lines move through three-dimensional space. “I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It’s still transparent. I realized that if I was going to make these forms, which interlock and interweave, it can only be done with a line because a line can go anywhere.” If you could see these sculptures in person, you could view them at different angles and observe how they continuously change depending on your viewing angle.
Asawa learned the basic technique for making these sculptures in Toluca, Mexico in 1947. The Mexican villagers used a crocheting technique to make egg baskets from galvanized wire. The outside form of these sculptures comes from patterns that she drew as a young child on the farm. “We had a leveler,” she explained. “It was pulled by four horses. Any bump in the rows made it impossible to irrigate. The rows had to be even so every plant got watered. I used to sit on the back of the leveler with my bare feet drawing forms in the sand, which later in life became the sculptural forms that make up the bulk of my sculptures.” As the leveler advanced, Asawa swung her feet out and brought them closer together, so that the two lines in the sand diverged and converged and diverged again. The basic shape she drew in the earth can be seen in the hourglass form of her crocheted wire sculptures.