What is a Google Doodle?

Google doodle celebrates Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa

To kick off Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Google honored acclaimed Japanese-American artist and educator Ruth Asawa with her own doodle.

Asawa was born in 1926 in California, where her family made a living as farmers until World War II, when they were sent to the US government internment camps for the Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. While in the camp, she received art lessons from fellow inmates. 

Following sixteen months in the camp, Asawa received a scholarship to Milwaukee State Teachers College, where she studied to become an art teacher. She was prevented from doing her student teaching, however,  because of her Japanese heritage. So she entered Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where she blossomed as an artist and met the architect Albert Lanier. They married and raised six children.

“As a young woman at Black Mountain College, she was fortunate to study with professional artists who expected her to think as an individual,” her children told Google. “It was the quality of this experience that mattered to her, where each person contributed but kept their own integrity. It’s like the design of her looped wire sculptures, which share the space they live in. ‘I am able to take a wire line and go into the air and define the air without stealing from anyone. A line can enclose and define space while letting the air remain air.’ ”

Asawa’s art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. 

Asawa also advocated for arts education for kids, including the creation of a public arts high school that was later renamed the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Google said. Since 1982, the city of San Francisco has declared Feb. 12 to be Ruth Asawa Day.

Google’s doodle tradition began in 1998 when, according to the company itself, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin played around with the corporate logo “to indicate their attendance at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert.”

Now there is an entire team of illustrators bringing biographies, history and interesting tidbits to life on Google’s homepage.

Here is a look back at some of the most popular doodles we covered:

Explore more doodles at google.com/doodles.

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