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Between Clouds of Memory Akio Takamori, A Mid-Career Survey

March 7 - May 3, 2006

About the Exhibition
Between Clouds of Memory: Akio Takamori, A Mid-Career Survey is the first in-depth analysis of Takamori's ceramic and graphic art work created between 1976 and the present. This hallmark exhibition of 42 ceramic sculptures and nine prints was organized by the Arizona State University Art Museum's Ceramic Research Center in Tempe, Arizona and curated by Peter Held.

Between Clouds of Memory: Akio Takamori, A Mid-Career Survey is presented at Marylhurst University in conjunction with the 40th Annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts in Portland, March 9-12.

NCECA has underwritten the Marylhurst presentation of the exhibition. The project is also supported in part by grants from the Clackamas County Cultural Coalition, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Between Clouds of Memory presents works drawn from the artist's personal holdings, the Arizona State University Art Museum's Ceramics Research Center (CRC) permanent collection and private and public collections nationwide. It shows the artist's ongoing search for personal and cultural identity in an era of increasingly global influences and contradictions.

Takamori, currently living and working in Seattle, was born in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan in 1950. Drawing on his childhood in postwar Japan, Takamori's figurative work is often autobiographical and includes villagers, school children, shopkeepers and family members that have been modeled from memory.

Between Clouds of Memory opened at the Arizona State Museum of Art and will travel to three venues: Marylhurst University's Art Gym, to coincide with the 40th Annual National Conference of the National Council on Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), Portland, Oregon, March 7-May 3, 2006; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, June 10-October 2, 2006; and the Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin, October 29, 2006-March 18, 2007.

About the Artist
Akio Takamori was born and raised in Japan, where he attended Musashino Art University in Tokyo from 1969 to 1971. In 1974, Takamori traveled to the United States for the first time, where he has spent the majority of his career. Takamori has completed multiple artist residencies, including two at the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands and four at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Montana. His many honors include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Flintridge Foundation, Virginia A. Groot Foundation and The Artist Trust. Between Clouds of Memory is the first comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work.

Notes on the Exhibition
"Through each of his creative evolutions, Takamori has challenged our interpretation of his work. Assessing Takamori's remarkable career, we witness an unfurling worldview, an artist flexing time and space to reconstitute an identity caught between clouds of memory."

– Peter Held, curator, Arizona State University Art Museum

Between Clouds of Memory exhibition curator Peter Held writes that Takamori's signature "envelope" vessel constitutes a groundbreaking development in American ceramics and coincides with a "golden era" in the 1980s. At the time, American ceramic artists let loose a torrent of creative energy, with many of the major artists coming out of Takamori's alma mater, the Kansas City Art Institute, under the tutelage of Ken Ferguson.

Held explains further that Takamori's work has always remained figurative and expressive of human emotion and sensuality. In recent years the dramatic sexual imagery of his vessel forms of the 1980s and early '90s have evolved into quieter, more contemplative sculptural works that reflect Takamori's ever-changing relationship to clay.

Takamori's figures are masterfully executed in stoneware and porcelain with a deft hand for decoration and are a marriage of western and non-western influences. His use of black lines reminiscent of Japanese wood block prints, coupled with an intense expression of the human form, have made Takamori one of the most exciting and imaginative artists to emerge from American ceramics.

"Takamori, like most moderns, travels through time, borrowing and snatching images from other artists, cultures and epochs. His swath extends from his own childhood doorstep in Japan to Picasso, pre-Columbian pottery, Velásquez, Goya and Persian miniatures. He has shopped the aisles of Greek mythology and European and Asian cave paintings and filled his studio cart with delicacies produced by Han, Ming and Tang Dynasty Chinese ceramists as well as folk artists of all stripes." ­­

– ­­Edward Lebow, essay for the exhibition catalogue

To coincide with the exhibition, the Ceramics Research Center has published a book entitled Between Clouds of Memory to present multiple perspectives on Takamori's career. The richly illustrated book includes commentary from Garth Clark, noted historian and art dealer, who reflects on his relationship with the artist; Peter Held, exhibition curator; Edward Lebow, award-winning author; and Toyojiro Hida, a prominent Japanese curator, writer and critic. The book, which retails for $35, is available in The Art Gym.

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