Toshiko Takaezu
Birth Date: June 17, 1922
Death Date: March 9, 2011
Artist Gallery
Born in 1922, on the island of Hawaii, Toshiko Takaezu, studied ceramics, design and weaving at the University of Hawaii from 1948 to 1951. In 1951, bringing a supply of Hawaii’s black volcanic sand to use in her work, Takaezu enrolled at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Of her experience there, Takaezu later said, Hawaii was where I learned technique; Cranbrook was where I found myself. At Cranbrook, she studied sculpture with William McVey and Weaving with Marianne Strengell, but the most important influence on her development was the celebrated Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell. An inspiring teacher, Grotell was known for emphasizing technical mastery as a means for achieving artists goals, and for perceptively fostering the individual talent of each student instead of teaching a particular style or method. Perhaps most importantly, at a time of growing controversy about the distinctions between craft and fine art, she imparted to her students her own conviction that ceramics, as an art form, could be the equal of painting or sculpture. After graduating from Cranbrook in 1954, Takaezu explored her own Japanese heritage and the country’s rich ceramic culture during her travels in 1955. She studied the tea ceremony, lived in a Zen Buddhist temple and visited Japanese ceramists, including Shoji Hamada, Rosanjin Kitaoji and Toyo Kaneshige. In the end, she discovered it’s not the pottery, it’s just the Eastern art and its philosophy that were influential. Takaezu has made the following interesting statement about her life’s work: “In my life I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables. They are all related. However, there is a need for me to work in clay. It is so gratifying, and I get so much joy from it, and it gave me many answer for my life”. Takaezu gifted the museum the items you see here today and while we were visiting with her she commented that she would never make another pot.