The United States Postal Service has released its strikingly artistic 2020 Forever stamp pane featuring the undulating mesh wire sculptures of pioneering Japanese American artist Ruth Asawa (1926-2013).
Each pane includes twenty 55-cent stamps, with two each of 10 designs, along with a photograph of Asawa taken by Nat Farbman in 1954 for Life magazine on the side.
Increasingly recognized for her innovative works, Asawa first learned to draw while held by the U.S. government in a Japanese internment camp with her family during World War II. She went on to study with Anni and Josef Albers at Black Mountain College where she developed skills with mesh wire weaving and sculpture, later making her mark with the evocative and curvaceous hanging basket-like sculptures for which she is known.
Asawa was also a strong advocate for community arts education in California. She created a number of iconic public art projects and works in other media, raised six children, founded an arts high school in San Francisco and perservered to achieve a notable position in the art world.
A new biography of this influential artist entitled Everything She Touched by Marilyn Chase was published by Chronicle Books in April. A Life Made By Hand, an illustrated children's book by Andrea D'Aquino, tells the inspiring life story of the beloved Bay Area artist and comes with a page of teaching tools.
The Asawa 55-cent stamps can be used for first-class mail, including use on mail-in ballots to help speed delivery ahead of the upcoming U.S. election. (In light of alarming new restrictions that could handicap the U.S. postal service, voters can also plan to mail ballots early or drop in a ballot box, if available in their district.)
"Every voter should put a 55-cent stamp on his or her return envelope, no matter if it is already pre-printed with bulk postage by their election board," suggests CNN correspondent David A. Andelman, who notes that "a 55-cent stamp automatically overrides other lesser postage on the envelope and forces it to go first class -- hopefully arriving in plenty of time to be counted."