Bells Toll for Ceramist Toshiko Takaezu

“I never had the sense of myself as an accomplished artist, and I always had to work three times as hard as anyone else to make my pieces as good as they could be. I am never completely satisfied. There always seems to be something just beyond my reach.”

Japanese-American ceramist, sculptor and weaver Toshiko Takaezu passed away March 9th in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was 88. A pioneer, she made a considerable impact in the art world. Hawaiian-born of Japanese parents, she traveled to her ethnic homeland in 1955 to study traditional Japanese pottery and Buddhism. By this time, she had studied ceramics since 1948; her work was influenced by the ‘mother of American ceramics,’ Maija Grottell. Takaezu taught ceramics at Princeton for 25 years and, after retiring in 1990, she worked as a studio potter in Quakertown, New Jersey. Later, she returned to Hawaii. She had a no-nonsense approach and demanded that all students cut their fingernails, celebrities included. At the beginning or her own artistic career, Takaezu created functional pieces but later she began making monolithic pieces, organic sculptures with closed tops. Of her glazing technique, Jay Jensen said, “She’s using the clay surface as sort of a canvas – just the broad brush strokes, and Mrs. Takaezu letting the glaze run and pool and drip.” A curator at Hawaii’s Contemporary Museum at Makiki Heights, Jensen said, “I would describe each of her works as a little world” in an interview for Midweek Artbeat. The following tributes from newspapers and blogs further illustrate Toshiko Takaezu:

Books written about or by Toshiko Takaezu:

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