Toshiko Takaezu (1922-2011) lived most of her life in rural New Jersey, where she made pots, gardened, and taught ceramics at nearby Princeton University.
She was born in Hawaii to Japanese parents, and the landscapes and traditions of the world she grew up in had a profound influence on her art. In the late 1990s, I spent time talking to Toshiko about her life and work. We had met at the Charles Cowles Gallery in 1997 who was representing her and I was lucky enough to be the intern at the gallery at the time. I helped catalog her work and began to understand her philosophy of meditation as a process as she worked, silence was at the core during this time for her magnificent large sculptures Moonpots. To close the form of a vessel demanded a type of silence.
Toshiko Takaezu pottery has an incredible kiln firing process and unique accidental glazing process. 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 signature
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