Monday, March 21, 2011

RIP Toshiko Takaezu

We just learned, a bit late, of the death of Toshiko Takaezu, an important ceramicist represented in our collection who passed away March 9. UNC Press's blog has a nice remembrance of her by Peter Held, editor of her book "The Art of Toshiko Takaezu: In the Language of Silence," and the New York Times ran its obituary Saturday, which includes the following paragraphs:
Early in her career she made traditional vessels but in the late 1950s, strongly influenced by the Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, she embraced the notion of ceramic pieces as artworks meant to be seen rather than used. She closed off the top of her vessels, leaving a vestigial nipple-like opening and creating, in effect, a clay canvas for glazing of all kinds: brushing, dripping, pouring and dipping.

She became known for the squat balls she called moon pots; the vertical “closed forms,” which grew sharply in height in the 1990s; and thin ceramic trunks inspired by the scorched trees she had seen along the Devastation Trail in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. At times Ms. Takaezu exhibited the moon pots in hammocks, an allusion to her method of drying the pots in nets. She also cast bronze bells and wove rugs.

Strongly influenced by her study of Zen Buddhism, she regarded her ceramic work as an outgrowth of nature and seamlessly interconnected with the rest of her life. “I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables,” she was fond of saying. Indeed, she often used her kilns to bake chicken in clay, and dry mushrooms, apples and zucchinis.
The Georgia Museum of Art has one of its wall cases in the hallway of the new wing devoted to her work (not including the pot above), which we encourage you to come see.

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