Ceramic masterpieces on display
‘An outgrowth of nature’ celebrates work of Toshiko Takaezu
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 15:09
A dozen sculptures by Japanese-American artist Toshiko Takaezu are on display at the Fleming Museum’s Wolcott Gallery until Sept. 12.
Inspired groupings of Takaezu’s vessels are coupled with poetry from Buddhist nun Otagaki Rengetsu.
Takaezu’s unique ceramic forms are an artistic inquisition as to where the line between functionality and sculpture exists.
The pieces were gifted to the Fleming Museum by Takaezu two years ago and have finally debuted in an exhibit.
“I have been wanting to share them ever since [they were given], but especially since the artist’s passing,” Fleming curator Aimee Marcereau DeGalan said.
Takaezu was no stranger to UVM’s art department.
“There were two reasons she thought of the Fleming,” gallery attendant and UVM senior Shawn Connolly said.
“She came to campus in the late 1960s as an artist-in-residence, and Hoyt Barringer on the art faculty was a former student of hers.”
Barringer encouraged Takaezu to consider the Fleming as a repository for her earlier works and later pieces from the remainder of her career.
“In terms of the actual design of the show, our thought was that since the work is evocative of nature and Takaezu was also fond of poetry, we would pair the two to create a quiet and contemplative space,” DeGalan said.
Takaezu’s fascination with Zen Buddhism is evident in her work. The viewer is invited to see the influence of this culture’s worship of nature in each of her vessels.
The words “From dawn to dusk, Spending the day, Gathering clay: Surely Buddha would not Think this a trifling matter” are written on the entrance wall, opening up to the first piece “Brown with Drips.”
The glazes are showcased brilliantly, brushed on the canvases of porcelain and stoneware surfaces.
“They become more like paintings,” Connolly said.
Smaller forms are reminiscent of the shells and waves forming on the Pacific waters of her homeland, Hawaii. Others are large and seemingly dense; Takaezu’s ability to craft such a variety of sizes on the pottery wheel is confounding.
Although a majority of the vessels are symmetrical with the characteristic “nipple” closure at the top, a few stand out for their deviation from this structure.
One of the “Tall Stoneware” forms is pushed in at the side, revealing a thin matte glaze of rust.
The “Folded Form, Dark Glaze” is wild with red-blues and a metallic sheen. Its belly gives way to deep folds that might have easily been discarded by a different artist.
“An Outgrowth of Nature: The Art of Toshiko Takaezu” will close with a gallery talk by Barringer.
The exhibit highlights Takaezu’s closed-form ceramic style and encourages artists to challenge the boundaries of what defines their craft.
UVM students receive free admission to the exhibit.