Ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu, who died this week in her native Honolulu, was someone I met in college.
My college work study job was supporting the visual arts, theater, and creative writing program offices. Often I was either sorting Toshiko’s mail, hanging signs on campus for exhibitions, or proof-reading her recommendation letters for students.
Toshiko’s work always had a relationship to the landscape. She was famous for globe-type pieces with earthy glazes that would sit in the middle of natural scenes. They were objects that defied being static. They looked like beings inhabiting a space.
I was never Toshiko’s student or friend, but I spent time on the edge of her ceramic ceremonies. She would cook for her students with the kiln, wrapping the food in clay and the building in good smells.
I’m including an image that I’m using without permission from J. Stanley Yake, who has written a really great book about Toshiko (you should buy it!). Her ceramic towers resemble super-calm-figures. I like that she is often photographed in a field with them.
I’m not saying it well. She treated the things that she made with great respect. She made places for her pieces in gardens, after they left studios and galleries. Just like she did for her students.