Toshiko Takaezu

Toshiko Takaezu (June 17, 1922 – March 9, 2011) was an American ceramic artist and painter. She was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, in 1922. She studied at the Honolulu Museum of Art and at the University of Hawaii under Claude Horan from 1948 to 1951. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where she befriended Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. In 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Buddhism and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which continue to influence her work. She taught for ten years at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and then from 1967 to 1992, she taught at Princeton University, where she was awarded an honorary doctorate.[3] Takaezu treated life with a sense of wholesomeness and oneness with nature; everything she did was to improve and discover herself. She believed that ceramics involved self-revelation. When she developed her signature “closed form” after sealing her pots, she found her identity as an artist. The ceramic forms resembled human hearts and torsos, closed cylindrical forms, and huge spheres she called “moons.” Before closing the forms, she dropped a bead of clay wrapped in paper inside, so that the pieces would rattle when moved. The most important part of her ceramic pieces is the hollow space of air within. She relates this to the idea that what’s inside a person is the most important. She retired in 1992 to become a studio artist, living and working in the Quakertown section of Franklin Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, about 30 miles northwest of Princeton. In addition to her studio in New Jersey, she made many of her larger sculptures at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She lived in Hawaii for 10 years and died March 9, 2011 in Honolulu. Toshiko Takaezu made functional wheel-thrown vessels early in her career. Later she switched to abstract sculptures with freely applied poured and painted glazes. In the early 1970s, when she didn’t have access to a kiln, she painted on canvas.
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Title: Exploded Moon
Artist: Toshiko Takaezu
This large dark glimmering oval moon looks different in pattern and coloration from every angle. If lifted and shaken, it rattles with the soft sound of a small clay pellet within, something the artist occasionally hid in a closed form shape to enliven it with a seed thought or a poem.
Title: Larger Moonpot
Artist: Toshiko Takaezu
Title: Moon Jar With Rattle
Artist: Toshiko Takaezu
Takeuzu’s ceramics explore closed cylindrical or spherical vessels, so called “moons” that explore the interior and exterior surface and form poetic mirrored relationships to the body — often resembling or closely inferring the heart or soul-as-organ, and particularly reinforced by the inclusion of a small bead of clay wrapped in paper before sealing to rattle around in the interior space. This jar is sealed a slightly squat form, its surface treated for a depth of texture in firing — then finished with a cobalt glaze.
Title: Oval Moon
Artist: Toshiko Takaezu
Title: Vessel with two Spouts
Artist: Toshiko Takaezu
Takeuzu’s ceramics explore closed cylindrical or spherical vessels, so called “moons” that explore the interior and exterior surface and form poetic mirrored relationships to the body — often resembling or closely inferring the heart or soul-as-organ, and particularly reinforced by the inclusion of a small bead of clay wrapped in paper before sealing to rattle around in the interior space. This jar is sealed a slightly squat form, its surface treated for a depth of texture in firing — then finished with a cobalt glaze.