An Interview with Toshiko Takaezu by D.B.Long

Now I know this film is slightly old but I thought it would be a great piece for all of you watch today, I haven’t seen it before and the views seem surprisingly low so I’m guessing others haven’t either. It’s a short interview produced by D.B.Long with ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu, someone who Daniel’s discussed here before, so you may have seen her work knocking around in the archives. Sadly she passed away last year but she’s left a great legacy behind and by the looks of it she’s had a big effect on a wide array of people. I’ve spent the last hour or so just reading through testimonials and comments which has been very enlightening and has given me a real insight into her character and the personal stories of her pupils. I think what’s most important is that she not only taught people how to mould and sculpt clay but also to shape and centre their lives, from the comments left it seemed like she was a great role model who tried to teach a balanced life. I’m sure you’d be interested to read all of these, a good place to start would be the Princeton University website where she helped set up the Visual Arts Programme.

In my opinion Toshiko is a fantastic artist and human being, she was strongly influenced by her study of Zen Buddhism and she regarded her ceramic work as interconnected with the rest of her life. I remember reading a quote from her once in an NY Times article saying, “I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables,” this links in with how she often used her kilns to bake chicken and all sorts of other foods in clay. Quite inspiring to say the least and I think this short interview below will offer more insight into her thoughts and her origins, particularly how her birth place of Hawaii influenced her work. One thing from the video that really struck a chord with me was around the 2 minute 40 second mark where she starts to talk about sound and how her pots make a noise when you tap them. She starts to say how you hear the sounds when you walk in the forest and how she tried to do the same thing with her pots, she was trying to make her pots come alive and speak, to put words in them. I think the quote below will really explain this as she does a much better job than myself. Watch on below.

“You are not an artist simply because you paint or sculpt or make pots that cannot be used. An artist is a poet in his or her own medium. And when an artist produces a good piece, that work has mystery, an unsaid quality; it is alive.” – Toshiko Takaezu