Developing ‘Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now’

Our fall exhibition Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now,  which also served as our 2015 ArtPrize exhibition, brings together twenty-five of the top ceramic artists from across Japan for the first time. Many of these artists are widely known and critically acclaimed in Japan, but few have displayed their work outside of their native country.

Why Japanese ceramics?

“This is an important exhibition for Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in several ways, as it continues our thoughtful examination of Japanese culture that was initiated with Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan and it furthers our celebration of the opening of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden—each remarkable and meaningful events in the history of this organization” says Vice President and Chief Curator Joseph Becherer.

How did this exhibition come together?

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now could not have happened without the ongoing partnership between the staff of the famed Shigaraki Museum and Culture Park (SCCP) and Meijer Gardens. Located in Michigan’s sister-state of Shiga, Japan, the SCCP was instrumental in the development of and loans for our Splendors of Shiga: Treasures from Japan exhibition as well as guiding the selection of all of the ceramics that are used in the teahouse of The Richard & Helen DeVos Japanese Garden.

The Shigaraki Museum and Culture Park

The Shigaraki Museum and Culture Park

Beginning in early January this year, a national call for submissions was sent out across Japan looking for artists to participate in this important exhibition. Nearly three hundred submissions representing every part of Japan were received! Both masters working along more traditional lines as well as those involved in more avant-garde practices submitted works, representing the tradition and innovation that is present in Japanese ceramics now.

A committee of eight distinguished art experts in Japan and two representatives from Meijer Gardens formed a ten member committee that narrowed the nearly three hundred submissions down to a final field of the top twenty five works that ultimately became the exhibition. These works were meticulously packaged and sent to Grand Rapids where they made their debut for our members before the start of ArtPrize.

Experts from the SCCP and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park review submissions

Experts from the SCCP and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park review submissions

“This exhibition would have been unimaginable without the wisdom and expertise of our colleagues at the Shigaraki Museum and Culture Park. The staff, collections and exhibitions are recognized throughout Asia as a leading voice for both the history and future of ceramics in Japan.” said Becherer.

What is next for this exhibition?

After debuting at Meijer Gardens this fall and being on display through January 3, 2016, the works will travel to museums in Japan in 2016.

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