A meandering stroll is a thing of leisure. But the meander is also a decorative pattern of repeated sharp turns — which makes it a good metaphor for the career of Ruth Asawa.

A modernist sculptor acclaimed — perhaps mistakenly — for her work’s quietude, Asawa wove sublimely delicate hanging forms out of nested lobes of looped wire. Celebrated early — and then politely ignored — they have been increasingly visible over the past decade, with good cause. But they are only a fraction of her output. Chasing the intersection of solid form and thin air, Asawa was dedicated above all to drawing, and her works on paper are illuminated by a revelatory exhibition that opened at the Whitney Museum in New York on Sept. 16.

The meander showed up early in her graphic work, in a jazzy composition from the late 1940s, its short passages of interlocking waves constructed from cut colored paper. In another drawing of the same period, in black and red ink and graphite, meanders of various sizes hurry back and forth in textlike rows, as if genially arguing the balance of line and shape, positive and negative form.