Toshiko Takaezu (1922-2011) helped establish ceramics as a fine art medium, challenging the long-held association of pottery with craft and functionality. Moving away from traditional forms, she created closed vessels and spherical pots inspired by natural imagery, both earthly and celestial. Her rounded shapes hide mysterious interiors: some hold small clay pieces that rattle inside, while others have poetry written on their inside walls, never to be seen. Elegant and harmonious, her work invites meditation on its graceful shapes and subtle blending of colors, encouraging close examination of the clay’s surface. Glazed with painterly skill, her lively brushwork treats the clay like a canvas. For Takaezu, glazing involved her whole body, an uninhibited dance open to chance and serendipity. By accepting the accidents of the process, she made each work unique and unrepeatable. Art-making was integral to Takaezu’s life, as necessary as all other daily tasks. Often saying that making ceramics was no different than cooking or working in her garden, she used her kiln for baking food as well as clay.
Born in Pepeekeo, Hawaii in 1922, Takaezu studied at the University of Hawai’i in Mānoa and then at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. From 1957 to 1992 she taught ceramics at Princeton University as a founding member of the visual arts department there. A regular Visiting Artist in Skidmore’s summer studio art program from 1970 until 2009, Takaezu became a close friend of the College. Access to Skidmore’s large-scale kilns allowed her to make many of her monumental works, and each summer she mentored a Skidmore student at her New Jersey studio. The Tang Museum celebrated Takaezu with a solo exhibition in 2002, and she received an honorary degree from Skidmore College in 2004.
The exhibition of Toshiko Takaezu's work is free and open to the public. It can be seen in a display case in the second floor hallway of the Saisselin Art Center on the campus of Skidmore College. A campus map showing the location of the Saisselin Art Center can be found here.
Toshiko Takaezu is organized by Caitlin Link '16 and Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, and supported by Friends of the Tang.