Toshiko Takaezu: Blending Life and Art to Create Poetry

— In the early 1980s, I learned about Japanese Living National Treasures from my own teacher, Mr. Takehara. This story reminded me of his teachings about the subject, as we covered ceramists and bell makers. I am sharing another’s story with you today, reprinted under license from Creative Commons. I thank the writer for their words and this collection of links about this stellar artisan, Toshiko Takaezu, a Living Treasure of Hawaii. — Jan


Blending Life and Art to Create Poetry

More than 40 years ago, I attended a daylong class taught by Toshiko Takaezu and I often think of this renowned artist who transformed ceramics from craft to high art.

In that long-ago class, students watched as Takaezu spoke about the soul of her work. As she closed the form (a novel act at the time), she dropped a tiny bead of clay inside. She then picked up the pot to listen as the work spoke to her.

This act shared with her students demonstrated the living poetry in how this artist approached her work.

More recently, that poetry sounds in Remembrance (photo above), her bronze bell installed in the memorial garden honoring 13 Princeton University alumni killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Watch the video on Autumn Bell to hear the sound of art. On this page, I gathered favorite photos, videoclips, articles and stories to help you appreciate the life and work of Toshiko Takaezu. (JSCW Note: use the link above to see the rest of the works featured. Below, runs selections from the post.)

An Interview with Toshiko Takaezu

Film for Watershed Special Exhibition at SOFA Chicago

Filmmaker D.B. Long interviewed American ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu in her home and studio for the Watershed Special Exhibition at SOFA. The film, featuring music performed by Winard Harper, was screened at the 16th SOFA Chicago (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art) Nov 6-8, 2009 at Navy Pier. Included the Smithsonian Archives for American Art.
Toshiko Takaezu | Grounds For Sculpture : Collection
It has been said that Toshiko Takaezu may have been the first potter to successfully close a pot. This seminal decision removed her work and ceramics as a whole, from the realm of craft and functionality, to that of fine art.
Presence and Remembrance: The Art of Toshiko Takaezu | Grounds For Sculpture: Expressions
The Exhibition Presence and Remembrance: The Art of Toshiko Takaezu: Princeton University Art Museum, June 26-September 11, 2010. One of the attributes of Toshiko Takaezu’s ceramics for which she is best known is the closing of the vessel form. Once closed, the emptiness is sealed within, while the clay form gains presence and becomes a work of art.

Echoes of the Earth: Ceramics, by Toshiko Takaezu

This book served as the catalog for Toshiko Takaezu’s exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California. This elegant volume includes images from a lifetime of work. Text by Scott Shields, chief curator at the Crocker. Forward by Gary Smith.


About Jan

I have a background in ceramics, graphic design and journalism.
This entry was posted in Articles and Interviews, Featured Artists, Video/Photos/Slide Show and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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