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Contact: Jette Englund

Experience Toshiko Takaezu
The Japanese-American Master Ceramist at Kean University Art Gallery

UNION, N.J. – Kean University welcomes the Japanese-American master ceramist Toshiko Takaezu in an exhibition of her works through March 13 in the CAS Gallery, located at 1000 Morris Avenue in Union, N.J. The CAS Gallery exhibit features 35 artworks spanning five decades from the permanent collection of the New Jersey State Museum and the collection of the artist.

“Toshiko Takaezu is an established figure in the world of fine art and her work is included in the collections of some of the world’s finest museums,” said Neil Tetkowski, director of University Galleries and curator for the exhibition. Takaezu’s work has been exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan, and the Bangkok National Museum in Thailand, among others. She has also been named a Living Treasure of Hawaii and has received many honorary doctorate degrees in recognition of her work.

A closing reception will take place on Thursday, March 13, at 4:30 p.m. Takaezu will be present to discuss her work.

Tetkowski visited the home and studio of Takaezu in rural New Jersey. “On her property, groups of tall ceramic totems are mysteriously positioned together as informal outdoor installations," said Tetkowski. “Beside the barn and studio are several of the artist’s original large bronze bells, which hang in the yard tempting any onlooker to ring them just to hear an anticipated peaceful clanging sound,” Tetkowski added.

Takaezu went to art school at the University of Hawaii and arrived in the States in 1951 on the heels of Pearl Harbor. At Cranbrook Academy of Art, she studied with Maija Grotell (1899-1973) who had come from the Bauhaus in Germany. In the following decade, she became known for her closed forms which she achieved by the simple yet radical act of closing the mouth of the vessel. Takaezu, and other ceramic artists of the 1950s and 1960s, were instrumental in exploring clay as a medium for art beyond its conventional utilitarian purpose. Early on Takaezu established her position in a male-dominated field where Peter Voulkos (1924-2002) and John Mason on the West Coast were already doing enormous experimental work in clay. In spite of the physical demands of this heavy and temperamental material, Toshiko Takaezu manipulated masses of clay on the potter’s wheel and quietly pursued her own evolution as an artist. From 1955 to 1964, Takaezu taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art and from 1967 to 1992 at Princeton University. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.