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.

Joseph Becherer for The Grand Rapids Press

Our Chief Curator and Vice President for Collections and Exhibitions and the Lena Meijer Professor in the History of Art at Aquinas College Joseph Becherer is lending his knowledge to MLive / The Grand Rapids Press during ArtPrize. Below are links to his columns, all of which (including previous years columns) are available on MLive’s website.

Behind the scenes of Meijer Gardens’ 2015 ArtPrize exhibit (September 19, 2015)

“Age of Good Fortune Island: KoiNoboru” by Japanese ceramic artist Kyoko Tokumaru sits on display for ArtPrize at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. (Neil Blake | MLive.com)

ArtPrize invites us to focus our conversations (September 21, 2015)

Tracie Alt walks near Craig Colorussso ‘s ArtPrize entry “Sun Boxes” at Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The entry features solar powered speakers playing music. Alt, who is from Grand Rapids, said she is alway excited about ArtPrize. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)

ArtPrize 2015 venue review: Kendall College at Federal Building (September 25, 2015)

ArtPrize entry

ArtPrize entry “You Imagine What You Desire” by Nathan Coley hangs outside at The Fed Galleries at the Kendall College of Art and Design on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. The words are one aspect of Coley’s entry. (Neil Blake | MLive.com)

ArtPrize 2015 venue review: UICA (September 25, 2015)

Heather Brammeier's

Heather Brammeier’s “This Mortal Coil” sits on display at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. The projects all relate to one or more of the senses including sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch and beyond. (Neil Blake | MLive.com)

ArtPrize 2015 venue review: Grand Rapids Art Museum (September 25, 2015)

Artist Judith Braun discusses her ArtPrize entry

Artist Judith Braun discusses her ArtPrize entry “As Above” that is featured at the Grand Rapids Art Museum during a preview tour on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Braun used her finger tips, dipped in charcoal, to create the symmetrical piece of abstract foliage and flowers. (Emily Rose Bennett | MLive.com)

ArtPrize 2015 venue review: SiTE:LAB’s Rumsey Street Project (September 28, 2015)

Mark Dean Veca's

Mark Dean Veca’s “Pony Show,” pictured Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, will be part of ArtPrize’s SiTE:LAB Rumsey Street Project. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)

How Jurors’ Shortlist focuses vast field of entries (September 29, 2015)

ArtPrize-goers look at Kunihiro Akinaga's entry

ArtPrize-goers look at Kunihiro Akinaga’s entry “Mimesis” at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. This entry is on the 2015 Jurors’ Shortlist in the 3D category. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)

Joseph Becherer’s must-see works at ArtPrize 2015 (October 2, 2015)

ArtPrize-goers look at Kunihiro Akinaga's entry

ArtPrize-goers look at Kunihiro Akinaga’s entry “Mimesis” at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. This entry is on the 2015 Jurors’ Shortlist in the 3D category. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)

Joseph Becherer shares stand-out works among ArtPrize 2015 Final 20 (October 5, 2015)

Randall Libby's ArtPrize entry

Randall Libby’s ArtPrize entry “michigan petoskey stone” at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. The entry is a Final 20 public vote finalist in the 2D category. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)

When there’s no front-runner, how do we experience ArtPrize? (October 11, 2015)

ArtPrize 2015

ArtPrize 2015

MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 5

The diversity and complexity of objects that are on display during Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now is extraordinary. While some works speak clearly to the history of Japanese ceramics, most offer more thoughtful and expressive sculptural interpretations of just how broadly ceramics are thought of today. As a result, the great diversity represented in these 25 works also mirrors the authentic diversity available in the art world today.

Below we introduce you to the final five artists that are participating in Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now, our 2015 ArtPrize exhibition:

Akio Tanino – Tricolored Earthenware with Sedimentary Lines and Geometric Pattern – Vote Code 61609
“The slab building method of bonding a ceramic box. After subjected to drying the three types of geometric patterns are applied over the entire surface in three colors of slip, and finished by putting a thin line with its own inlay technique. This work was produced in the thought of harmony with the relationship between modeling and design.”

Tricolored Earthenware with Sedimentary Lines and Geometric Pattern by Akio Tanino

Tricolored Earthenware with Sedimentary Lines and Geometric Pattern by Akio Tanino

Hiroshi Taruta – Beams of Light – Vote Code 61447
“As depicted in the title “Beams of Light,” rays of light spread, expressing the manner in which light emits.”

Beams of Light by Hiroshi Taruta

Beams of Light by Hiroshi Taruta

Kyoko Tokumaru – Age of Good Fortune Island: KoiNoboru Island – Vote Code 61993
“I think that one origin of art is ritual and tribute. In the form of a tribute to God in the world, such as a sacred island and mountain model is a device for inviting the gods who are in the sky, that was a spirit-dwelling object there are many such things. The “good luck (“Ugafushima” in Okinawan), has the image of a holy island’s Gathering Miroku-sama of appearing as such ideal world, and God and Shenzhen.”

Age of Good Fortune Island: KoiNoboru Island by  Kyoko Tokumaru

Age of Good Fortune Island: KoiNoboru Island by Kyoko Tokumaru

Aico TsumoriA Mermaid Buys Shoes – Vote Code 61464
“In Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”, a mermaid receives legs in exchange for her voice. The ending is a sad one, in which the mermaid becomes one with the bubbles in the sea, but this mermaid is looking at a catalog and buying high heels.”

A Mermaid Buys Shoes by Aico Tsumori

A Mermaid Buys Shoes by Aico Tsumori

Akira Yamada – Shoujou red colored jar with lid – Vote Code 62257
“By putting a lid on this work I am expressing a closed space. I was inspired by the atmosphere of Chinese painted earthenware and started to make this ceramic. I use a lathe to try to make soft lines that express by body rhythm. To aim for a strong and more delicate texture, I used both under-glaze painting and over-glaze painting, and baked the ceramic numerous times for a deeper red.”

Shoujou red colored jar with lid by Akira Yamada

Shoujou red colored jar with lid by Akira Yamada

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now is ArtPrize at Meijer Gardens and runs through January 3, 2016.

MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 4

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now is an important exhibition for Meijer Gardens in several ways. “It continues our thoughtful examination of Japanese culture 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” said Joseph Becherer, Vice President and Chief Curator.

Below, we introduce you to five more of the artists participating in our 2015 ArtPrize exhibition and their works.

Chika Shiraki – Life – Vote Code 61492
“Life. Being born. Growing. Living. Life. The many things that are born inside of me from hints from these things. A world in which you live in. A world which keeps you alive. A world being born.”

Life by Chika Shiraki

Life by Chika Shiraki

Seika Takahashi – Tea of Spring – Vote Code 62305
“This is the tea pottery I have been making since I was a student. By overlapping and remaking many times they have changed little by little. The feeling I had the first time I saw this tea pottery, bringing its form to reality has become the driving force of the current of my work in pottery. Twisting the lid and body together while the body and the bottom portion of the lid of the pot in the form of a race is this improved version, it is a mechanism so that the lid does not come off. The sugar pot has a mechanism that the pattern of the lid and the body fits and complimented by the spoon. The tea cup and the saucer have become uneven patterns that fit. From the shape is the image the bud of a plant, I put “spring” in the title.”

Tea of Spring by Seika Takahashi

Tea of Spring by Seika Takahashi

Kazuki Takemura – Growing1401 – Vote Code 61063
“In a hemisphere shaped plaster hold I put together parts which I made with the hand forming technique, and created the shape. It is strong against dry air and heat because of the cluster of hexagon shapes and the arch pattern on the cross sections. It is a geometric pattern, but is flexible in making the most of the clay’s organic nature because it was made with the hand forming technique.”

Growing1401 by Kazuki Takemura

Growing1401 by Kazuki Takemura

Yoko Tanaka – Storm -Night- – Vote Code 61675
“I create on the foundational theme of “turning a moment into eternity.” A moment that moved my heart is consumed within me, is replaced with porcelain using soil, believing that perhaps I might thereby be able express sheathed transience and the powerful beauty that is included in the moment. The concept of this work, based on that has to express the powerful beauty of life that wriggle at night. I created a piece with the feeling of the transience of the moment and the power of life of wriggling insects that gather to light on a summer’s evening. It is my hope that those who view this work will feel that moment becomes an eternal moment.”

Swarm -Night- by Yoko Tanaka

Swarm -Night- by Yoko Tanaka

Yutaka Tanaka – Mud Ring Platter – Vote Code 61622
“British old pottery slip ware charmed me as a modern Japanese to produce such a piece in my own sense.”

Mud Ring Platter by Yutaka Tanaka

Mud Ring Platter by Yutaka Tanaka

MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 3

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now brings together twenty-five of the leading ceramics artists from across Japan. Most of these artists are widely recognized and critically acclaimed in Japan, few have exhibited here in the United States. This exhibition truly is a must see experience here at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park!

Continuing our series introducing you to the artists who are a part of our 2015 ArtPrize and fall exhibition, here are five more artists to get to know:

Naoto NakataTWINS – for Maple in Minneapolis – Vote Code 61572

TWINS - for Maple in Minneapolis by Naoto Nakata

TWINS – for Maple in Minneapolis by Naoto Nakata

Ado OdaGold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box “Bamboo Accent” – Vote Code 61503
“Toubako (a ceramic box) with bamboo design represented in gold and silver colored printed figures (over enamels).”

Gold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box "Bamboo Accent" by Ado Oda

Gold and Silver Octagonal Ceramic Box “Bamboo Accent” by Ado Oda

Nobuyuki OgawaPhantom – Vote Code 61018
“With the mental image of a flower as the motif a skeletonized thing was formed.”

Phantom by Nobuyuki Ogawa

Phantom by Nobuyuki Ogawa

Sayaka OishiAccessories – Vote Code 61360
“Whenever I create I always think about the ties between forms and accessories. I also try to make good use of the glaze which is original to ceramics. There are many animal and plant based accessories around the human in my work, but these all represent ‘greed’ and ‘nature’.”

Accessories by Sayaka Oishi

Accessories by Sayaka Oishi

Junji Setsu – Irosuminagashi “Moon Flower” – Vote Code 61791
“I imagined a beautiful picture in which the moonlight lights up the surface of water at night. This piece can also be seen as a flower, which is why I named it “Moon Flower”. The Irosuminagashi technique which I created myself makes it possible to capture one moment in nature. This seems to be connected with the fleeting beauty of life. It was created with the feel of the Japanese concept of beauty and nature. Irosuminagashi was created by myself and nature conversing and coming into harmony, and I think that the appealing part of this technique is that you can never make the same pattern twice.”

Irosuminagashi "Moon Flower" by Junji Setsu

Irosuminagashi “Moon Flower” by Junji Setsu

MEET THE 2015 ARTPRIZE ARTISTS – PART 2

For centuries, functional and decorative ceramic arts in Japan have been appreciated and collected across the globe. In many ways, Japanese ceramics have become iconic references for Japanese culture at large. Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now illustrates that ceramics are a living and expanding tradition, and many of today’s leading artists are highly inventive, exhibiting great creativity in form, content and technique.

Continuing our series introducing you to the artists who are a part of our 2015 ArtPrize and fall exhibition, here are five more artists to get to know:

Yucho Kobayashi – Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar – Vote Code 61968
“As someone who actually makes Shigaraki pottery using the long-standing traditional anagama kiln, I tried to fire an organic large jar with a rippled pattern in an anagama kiln with innovation in mind.”

Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar by Yucho Kobayashi

Shigaraki Rippled Large Jar by Yucho Kobayashi

Atsuko Kubota – Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter – Vote Code 62522
“The geometric pattern of this blue porcelain (pale-blue glaze) platter is a continuous structure of a repeating pattern of squares rotated twice. Over the spread latticework, squares open vertical and horizontal gaps, regularly overlapping, the lattice under the arrangement of the the squares does not overlap at an angle. The process of arranging distinct geometric patterns is the same abstract expression as a music composer. Finding a new geometric effects is a great pleasure. Although such designs are readily expressed in drawing, it is very difficult in pale-blue porcelain.”

Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter by Atsuko Kubota

Pale-blue Glazed Geometric Patterned Platter by Atsuko Kubota

Toru Kurokawa – Garden – Vote Code 61002
“This work was created in a primitive way, with the shape, structure, patterns, and the anagama kiln being brought into effect. I wish for people to rethink their ties with nature, and wonder about their identities as a race.”

Garden by Toru Kurokawa

Garden by Toru Kurokawa

Jun Matsumura – S.S.T.P. – Vote Code 61632
“A super flat era was the background for making the tea pot. This craft evolved alongside lifestyle. In the functional designs that are selected, I incorporate the expression of my modern life in the form.”

S.S.T.P. by Jun Matsumura

S.S.T.P. by Jun Matsumura

Chiyo Nagaoka – First Stage – Vote Code 61432
“Prologue of “the form of the vessel within me” that continues to move without having to stay. Wishes and prayers are pictured as if they are spun with thread.”

First Stage by Chiyo Nagaoka

First Stage by Chiyo Nagaoka

Meet The 2015 ArtPrize Artists – Part 1

Tradition and Innovation: Japanese Ceramics Now is a highly unique exhibition bringing together 25 of the leading ceramics artists from across Japan. Although most are widely recognized and critically acclaimed in their native country, few have exhibited in the United States – making this a must see exhibition experience.

Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to the participating artists in their own words and showing you their works. All 25 masters participating in the exhibition are Japanese, making this the first all-national venue in ArtPrize history!

Kunihiro AkinagaMimesis – Vote Code 61089
“I use the bones of animals for my theme – decoration. I form and design the patterns on each bone and copy them on to a paper pattern and create them using the hand forming technique. After firing, I put all of the parts together in a skeletal structure. My image of decorations are the excess decorations of temples and churches – the view of the world between life and death. I also feel that by decorating, the truth of things gets hidden. For example, in our lives the packaging and decoration of our food diverts our attention from the death of animals. By using the concept of decorations you can find modernity even in something universal such as life and death.”

Mimesis by Kunihiro Akinaga

Mimesis by Kunihiro Akinaga

Tadami Hirota – Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid – Vote Code 61021
“The bush clover that sways in the wind appears often in “Manyoushuu”. I expressed lovely, beautiful curves in the form of a round container with a lid.”

Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid

Gold and Silver Colorful Bush Clover Pattern Small Container with Lid by Tadami Hirota

Masami HosokawaTake A Flight – flying form –  Vote Code 62521
“‘Flying’, ‘swelling’, ‘spreading’, ‘dreams’, ‘hope’, ‘the universe’, ‘infinity’ – I gave one form to all things that are positive.”

Take a Flight - flying form - by Masami Hosokawa

Take a Flight – flying form – by Masami Hosokawa

Tetsuya Ishiyama – Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot – Vote Code 61239
“By using an inlaid technique I created a geometric pattern, by which I expressed the stereoscopic effect of overlapping cloths.”

Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot by Tetsuya Ishiyama

Inlaid Colorful Earthenware Pot by Tetsuya Ishiyama

Seigo Kaneyuki – Band of Light  – Vote Code 61153
Created by its original technique called “Ligne Hotaru”, it has developed from the traditional Japanese technique “Hotarude”. Its delicate lines of light take us to the other side of everyday life.

Band of Light by Seigo Kaneyuki

Band of Light by Seigo Kaneyuki