T H E C E R A M I C A R T O F Y O S H I R O I K E DA
Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art Kansas State University, Manhattan
Quiet Symmetry: The Ceramic Art of Yoshiro Ikeda Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan April 17â€“September 2, 2012
Guest curator: Glen R. Brown, professor of art history, Kansas State University Publication management: Hayli Morrison, marketing services, Division of Communications and Marketing, Kansas State University
Graphic designer: Abbie Polys, design services, Division of Communications and Marketing, Kansas State University
Printer: Mainline Printing, Topeka, KS Photography Credits: All photographs by David Mayes, photo services, Division of Communications and Marketing, Kansas State University, except fig. 1, Ester Ikeda, 2006; fig. 5, Gary Lytle, Royal Purple 1979 (Manhattan: Kansas State University, 1988), 109; fig. 6, Ester Ikeda, ca. 1995
Front cover: Teapot (front and back view), 2006 Frontispiece: Burning Field, ca. 1995 Title page: Yoshiro Ikeda in his studio, 2011 Endpiece: Teapot, 2006 Back cover: Crater Lake (detail), ca. 1995, stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate
ÂŠ 2012 by the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by other means, electronic or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher. ISBN-13: 978-1-890751-18-0 Distributed by the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University 701 Beach Lane, Manhattan, KS 66506 785.532.7718 beach.k-state.edu
05 A r tis t Statement 06 Forew ord, B ill N or th 07 Q uiet S ymmetry, Gle n R . Bro wn 1 1 Chronology 13 G raduate Students 15 Step-b y -Step: A five-minute met hod
for c enter ing over 25 pounds of c l a y
17 Ceramic Works 27 Checklis t of the Exhib ition 29 S elected Collections 30 S elected Bib liography
Artist Statement Throughout my artistic career, I have drawn inspiration and ideas from my surroundings. My works have reflected the organic aspects of nature, the everchanging weather and the art of dancing. Form and surface are woven together, creating an endless line of movement. This carries the eye of the viewer and continually provokes curiosity. Over the years most of my work has been hand-built, though I continue to wheel-throw and incorporate wheel-thrown elements in my forms. Hand building gives a sense of freedom and possibility. The asymmetrical aspect brings with it the eternal challenge: balance, harmony and beauty.
Fig. 1, Yoshiro Ikeda shapes the handle of Teapot, 2006
Foreword The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art is pleased to present “Quiet Symmetry: The Ceramic Art of Yoshiro Ikeda.” This exhibition marks Yoshiro Ikeda’s retirement from Kansas State University and provides an opportunity to celebrate the artist’s work and honor his many accomplishments – academic and artistic. When Ikeda came to Kansas State University in 1978 to teach ceramics in the art department, he had little experience with life in the vast spaces between the Mississippi and the Rockies. Yoshi, as Ikeda is affectionately known, made Manhattan his home, where he has raised a family with his wife, Ester, and mentored legions of students. He has also distinguished himself in many ways, including receiving the prestigious National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. The artist also developed a deep and lasting relationship with the land and life of the Kansas Flint Hills. This relationship informs his art significantly. There is an ineffable quality apparent in Ikeda’s vessels that evokes the subtle and rich majesty of the natural world in Kansas. His ceramic works are distinctive. Ikeda’s forms and glazes, especially his signature magnesium carbonate glaze, are immediately recognizable as having come from his hands and mind. Ikeda’s contributions to the life and culture of K-State and beyond have been considerable. This exhibition is a bittersweet affair for the countless persons for whom Yoshi’s presence has been a steady fact of life at K-State. Thankfully, his voice, vision and deeds will reverberate throughout this place for a long time.
The success of this exhibition and catalogue is the result of the work of many individuals. The museum would like to express its gratitude to the Department of Art at Kansas State University, particularly Geraldine Craig, department head; Glen Brown, professor of art history and guest curator; and Dylan Beck, assistant professor of ceramics. The museum is thankful for the diligent project management of Hayli Morrison of the Division of Communications and Marketing at Kansas State University and the work of her colleagues, including graphic designer Abbie Polys and photographer David Mayes, without which this catalogue would not have come to fruition. Special thanks are also due Michael Michaelis at Emprise Bank for the loan of work from the Art of Emprise Collection, and to lenders Jay and Barbara Nelson at Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan. Linda Duke, director of the Beach Museum of Art, and the museum’s staff have dedicated considerable energies to seeing this project to a successful conclusion. Thank you Linda; Dustin Newton, security; Ladonna Piper, membership and events coordinator; Sarah Price, registrar/collections manager; Kathrine Schlagek, senior educator; Martha Scott, business and marketing manager; Elizabeth Seaton, associate curator; Lindsay Smith, exhibitions designer; and Tony Whetstone, building maintenance. Finally, the museum would like to express its deepest appreciation and gratitude to Yoshi and Ester Ikeda for all they have done for the museum, Kansas State University and Manhattan. We wish you the best.
Bill North Senior Curator
Glen R. Brown
Though deeply inspired by nature, ceramic artist Yoshiro Ikeda is no mere landscapist. Intervening between his sculptural vessels and the natural world that inspires them is an abstraction that sheds the varied particulars of experience in favor of a unity only grasped by the mind. While the consequences of clashing geological forces and life-and-death struggles in the biological realm can inspire awe, Ikeda’s art reduces all natural conflicts to a quiet symmetry. Everything is designed to imply reconciliation of contrary energies and attainment of harmony above the endless cycles of destruction and creation that those energies sustain. On the scale of the universe, a perfectly balanced dynamic can only be imagined as the mind extends itself across the vastness of space and the span of millennia. Ikeda’s works condense space and time to encapsulate that essential balance. In their allusive capacity, they are less like geological formations encountered randomly in nature than like the solemn stones of a Zen garden.
the advice of his professor, Ray Grimm, he determined to develop his skills in ceramics and pursue a career as a teacher of art. In 1970, with the support of a scholarship from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Ikeda attended the Kyoto Geidai (Kyoto City College of Fine Arts), where he worked with the master potter Kondo Yutaka and the famous Yagi Kazuo, founder of the Sodeisha group of avant-garde ceramists who abandoned function in favor of the sculptural possibilities of vessels. The exhilarating influence of Yagi’s work opened Ikeda’s eyes to the potential of clay as a medium for spontaneous expression. As a result, he began experimenting with large, thrown, tendentiously asymmetrical forms that carried the aggressive marks of their making. He also explored glazes, often mixing them with unconventional substances such as soy sauce and leaving the outcome deliberately in the hands of fate.
Born in 1947 in Kagoshima, Japan, near the southernmost tip of the island of Kyushu, Ikeda was a self-described unruly child, perhaps in response to his father’s absence during frequent business trips relating to the sugar-cane industry in Taiwan. As a remedy for his rebellion, the young Ikeda remembers being sent every Sunday to a nearby Buddhist temple to receive instruction in Zen meditation and the art of calligraphy, both of which demanded discipline and a focused mind. He recalls that he took to these studies in earnest and learned to channel his energies into positive pursuits by the age of 13, when he immigrated with his family to the United States. In 1973 Ikeda returned to the United States to accept a one-year teaching position at Shortly after taking the oath of US citizenship in 1965, Ikeda Utah State University. As that appointment enrolled as a freshman at Portland State University in Oregon. drew to a close, his wife Ester shrewdly After two-and-a-half years studying for a degree in architecture, advised him to accept another teaching he changed his major to painting and drawing. During his senior position near Los Angeles. Although the year, and quite by chance, he developed a penchant for clay. On pay was poor, the move brought Ikeda
Fig. 2, Ikeda demonstrates hand building to students in Willard Hall at Kansas State University, 2011.
into the environs of the most dynamic ceramics community in the country, where he hoped to study with a luminary such as Paul Soldner at Scripps College. Eventually, he enrolled in the graduate program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned his MFA in 1977. Following graduation, he remained in the area for a year, teaching at Ventura Community College. Although at home on the West Coast, Ikeda kept an eye on the national academic job market, hoping to find a teaching position that offered a salary sufficient to support a growing family. Despite knowing little about the Midwest, he applied for an assistant professorship in ceramics at Kansas State University. Surprised when an offer came after a less-than-promising telephone interview, he and Ester set out for Kansas with more questions than belongings. He remembers that his first act on arrival at the university was to construct a raku kiln to produce cups and dishes.
The second was to learn the hand-building techniques that he had been hired to teach but had never actually employed in making his art. Easy-going and with a ready sense of humor, Ikeda proved an immensely popular teacher. Over the next four decades, he would guide thousands of beginning students from their first awkward attempts to roll out coils of clay or center clay on the wheel to levels of confidence and facility with the medium. A mentor to dozens of graduate students who today are professors in colleges and universities around the country, Ikeda has left his mark on ceramics education in the United States. He received an Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty award from the Kansas Arts Commission in 1990, was made a Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University in 2004, and was honored in 2010 with an award for excellence in teaching from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA).
Equally prominent as an artist, Ikeda has been invited to exhibit his sculptural vessels in a dozen different countries and has presented workshops and lectures at universities, museums, and conferences from Scotland to Brazil, Korea, Japan, and New Zealand. Nationally, his works have been included in nearly 350 exhibitions, garnering more than sixty awards. His monumental vessels, particularly his colossal teapots with their painterly surfaces and gestural linear patterns, are immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the development of American ceramics over the past thirty-five years. Ikedaâ€™s training as a painter, first in the Zen tradition of suiboku-ga (black ink painting) and later under the influence of seventies formalism, accounts for the distinctive treatment of his surfaces. As in the vast canvases of Robert Motherwellâ€™s open series, the interjection of geometry into nebulous fields of brushstrokes in Ikedaâ€™s compositions suggests analytical incursions 8
into the void. One could also read these differing formal elements as terms in a dialectic between Eastern mysticism and Western rationalism, the biosphere and the lithosphere, or the natural world and the cultural realm generated by human beings. Ikeda’s painterly surfaces are not entirely worked with a brush. The linear texture, perhaps the most distinctive element of his compositions, is produced by employing a plastic squeeze bottle to trail a white glaze mixed with magnesium carbonate onto the surfaces of the bisque-fired vessels. Responding to the magnesium carbonate, the glaze contracts into beads when Ikeda fires the vessel. Later, he applies a black, green or blue glaze to the entire surface, wiping it from the raised areas of the white lines with a soft cloth. He then fires the vessel again at a lower temperature. The
final step consists of applying a red glaze to protruding elements such as the knobs of lids and then firing a third time. The results are highly textured surfaces that, depending on the colors and patterns, are reminiscent of the brittle skins of lichens, crumbling granite, the scaly bark of a persimmon tree, or countless other surfaces in nature. Nature is Ikeda’s constant touchstone. The titles of some of his sculptural vessels—for example, Monet’s Dream—suggest that the nature to which they refer is cultivated and therefore owes its tranquility to the pacifying hand of humanity. Others, however, such as Tornado or After Eruption, seem to discount entirely the importance of human beings to nature. Violent storms and volcanic upheavals are for us natural
disasters, but in the life of the earth they are events integral to a perpetual process of destruction and regeneration. Ikeda’s vessels represent this greater life and for that reason transcend the effects of ordinary time, appearing to register on their surfaces the traces left by the slow passing of centuries. Their lines could be compared to the xylem rings visible in the cross section of a tree trunk or the stratification encountered by archaeologists when cutting deeply into the earth. Ikeda has always taken great interest in the evidence of powerful conflicts in the earth’s crust and remembers being drawn naturally to the deserts of Utah. He has also drawn inspiration from the rhythmic flames that sweep life from the prairie during the burning season and the vitality
Figs. 3 & 4, Figure, 1995 of wild grasses, flowers, and scattered bits of foliage that rapidly rejuvenate the scorched earth. The color changes that mark the times of year in the Flint Hills are reflected in his glazes, which suggest spring mists over germinating fields, the baked earth of summer, dead and crumbling autumn leaves, or scattered patches of snow in winter. If the seasons can be conceived as stages of an endless cycle of birth, growth, decay and death in the biosphere, the geological life of the earth is measured by other more volatile events. In May 1980 in Washington state, the volcano Mount St. Helens erupted with explosive force, and Ikeda remembers that he felt driven to survey the consequences in person. Fascinated by the blanket of ash that smothered everything in the shadow of the mountain and the forests of charred trees that had withstood the blast, he began his Mount St. Helens series. Consisting of low, coil-built forms embellished with melancholy hues, the series is a reflection on death, but also a testament to the perseverance of life. Ikeda’s most vivid memory of the aftermath of the eruption is of a pair of trees that on one side bore the scars of the searing heat and on the other remained perfectly green and healthy.
Acceptance of death as an integral aspect of the long life of the earth has always characterized Ikeda’s art, which posits all things, including the direst, in terms of continuity rather than finality. Inherent in a cyclical concept of time is the reassurance that new life will follow death as certainly as spring follows winter. This concept is the crux of Ikeda’s general philosophy as well as his aesthetic. Creativity only derives its value from its complementary dance with destruction, and Ikeda has from the beginning made his work an expression of this integral relationship. For this reason, sadness always tinges his elation and notes of hope reverberate in his dirges. His vessels play out the grand dramas of the universe in simple, poetic forms. Humanity may take part in this poetry, but it is not a sustaining element. Ikeda’s vessels are, above all, quiet reminders that time is a relative medium and, for better or worse, our personal triumphs and tragedies leave only tiny traces on the face of eternity.
1970-1973 Attends Kyoto Geidai (Kyoto City College of Fine Arts) in Japan, where he studies with Yagi Kazuo, founder of the Sodeisha group of avant-garde ceramists.
1947 Born in Kagoshima, Japan.
1972 Marries Ester Yuba. 1974 Daughter Nina is born.
1970 Receives BS in painting and drawing,
Begins one-year appointment as instructor, Riverside Art Center/ Museum, Riverside, CA.
Portland State University, Portland, OR.
1973 Begins a one-year 1960 Immigrates with his family to the
appointment as instructor, Utah State University, Logan, UT.
United States to live first in Fresno, CA; later moves to Portland, OR.
1965 Becomes a citizen of the United States.
1977 Receives MFA in ceramics, University of California, Santa Barbara. Begins a one-year appointment as instructor, Ventura Community College, Ventura, CA. Son Seiji is born.
1945 1955 1965 1975 11
1978 Appointed assistant professor, Kansas State University.
Receives tenure and promotion to associate professor, Kansas State University.
1985 Honored as an emerging artist, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
1988 Promoted to professor, Kansas State University.
1990 Receives Kansas Artist Craftsman Association Fellowship award.
2004 Receives the title of Distinguished Professor, Kansas State University.
Receives the Excellence in Teaching Award, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
1985 1995 2005 2015 12
Graduate Students Yoshiro Ikeda has been the major professor for more than 40 graduate students in ceramics at Kansas State University. Below is a complete list of these students. All but two are actively working in the field of ceramics. Amanda Small Amiko Matsuo Brad Anderson Brandon Lutterman Brian Mccallum Chanda Glendinning Chris Graber Chris Wanner David “Bo” Bedilion Donna Cole Donna Rozman Elisa Stalker Stone Elizabeth B.James Frances Belucci Johnson Gaylen Lemke Howard Eugene Sievers Hyang Sun “Sunny” Shultz Jeaneane Johnson Jeanette Faye Neal Jerod Morris Jerri Griffin Joe Cook Julie (Gibbs) Brooks Kathy Hanson Lazare Rottach Les Laidlaw Machiko Yamazaki Marko Fields
Mika Negishi Laidlaw Mike Lemke Nicole Copel Nicolette Mitchell Patrick Taddy Samuel S. Dowd Scott Dooley Somphane Simmaly Sonya Paukune Steve Belz Surojana Sethabutra Susan Nam Todd Matteson Todd Shanafelt William Reeder Fahnestock
Fig. 5, Ikeda reminds his ceramics class of deadlines for the firing of final projects, ca. 1988
“His international reputation brings students here, but once they get here they find out that he is a wonderful teacher.” – Louann Faris Culley, former director of graduate studies for the Kansas State University Department of Art
“You are a great and generous teacher for your visions.” – Former student Surojana Sethabutra, April 2011 letter to Ikeda
“That is pretty good. I will give you D+.” – Common phrase Ikeda used with students, popularized by a T-shirt he sold at a National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference
“You know what you should do if you want to be an artist. You should marry a rich girl.” – Yoshiro Ikeda
“He always seems to have an uncanny ability to get the essence of what needs to be addressed in work. He is an outstanding teacher.” – Nicole Mitchell, former Kansas State University Department of Art graduate student
“My students are normally not very quiet, but I think they have been in awe of his ability…to see a professional use clay with such sensitivity and skill is really inspiring.” – Missouri teacher Barbara Nelsen, after an Ikeda demonstration for her Washington Middle School class
“My time with you at Kansas State was some of the most important time developmentally for my career…” – Former student William Reeder Fahnestock in a November 2009 e-mail to Ikeda 14
Step by Step: A five-minute method for centering more than 25 pounds of clay Excerpted from an article written by Yoshiro Ikeda in the June 1978 issue of Ceramics Monthly
Center a 1½ pound clay ring. Moisten the feet of a doublefooted bat and push solidly into clay ring for firm support.
Adjust bat by pushing down in middle with right hand and, as the wheel turns, hitting the sides of the bat with the left hand until it is centered.
Place pre-wedged 25 pounds of clay on center of bat. Using a wheel (such as the Shimpo or Kickwheel) that will turn in “off” position, push the right hand against the side of the lump of clay in order to turn the wheel counterclockwise while pressing the left hand down against the clay on the opposite side at a 45-degree angle.
As the left hand continues to turn the clay, the knuckle of the right hand is pounded into the center of the clay until the desired bottom thickness (about ½ inch) is reached. A baseball bat can be substituted for the knuckle.
To open up further and smooth the inside of the form, press right hand from the center to the left with a moist sponge.
Cupping a wet sponge in the right hand, raise the wall toward the center into as small an opening as possible.
The top opening, which will be somewhat uneven, is centered and evened by exerting downward and outward pressure with the right hand (still cupping with a moist sponge and inward pressure with the left hand).
Repeat steps 6 and 7 at least 2 times, remembering each time to recenter and even the opening. With each repetition, the walls should be raised higher and made thinner.
At this point, the cylinder is centered and the walls are being raised by the right hand, which is cupping a wet sponge, which is not allowed to touch the clay but is squeezed as needed for proper lubrication.
Walls are raised to desired height by inward pressure of right index knuckle.
After Eruption, ca. 1985
Blue Sky, ca. 1985
Cactus, ca. 1985
Daruma, ca. 1985
Kimono, ca. 1985
Monetâ€™s Dream, ca. 1985
Performance, ca. 1985
Arch, ca. 1985
Enigma, ca. 1985
Medium Teapot, 1990
Cradle, ca. 1995 21
Crater Lake, ca. 1995
Figure, ca. 1995
Kansas Landscape (Spring), ca. 1995
Raindrop, ca. 1995
View, ca. 1995
Large Teapot, 2005
Raindrop Teapot, 2005
Flint Hills, 2 pieces, 2008
Checklist of the Exhibition Note: All works are by Yoshiro Ikeda (United States, born in Kagoshima, Japan, 1947). Dimensions are given in inches, height preceding width, preceding depth. Unless otherwise indicated, all works are from the collection of the artist.
Stoneware and glaze 23 x 14 x 10 in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 12 x 18½ x 19 in.
Stoneware and glaze 8 x 11 x 11 in.
After Eruption ca. 1985
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 18 x 16 x 12 in.
Stoneware and glaze 12½ x 15 x 7 in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 15½ x 11½ x 14 in.
Stoneware and glaze 13½ x 8 x 8 in. Courtesy of Strecker-Nelson Gallery,
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 20 x 17 x 5½ in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 31 x 16½ x 8½ in.
Courtesy Emprise Bank
ca. 1985 Stoneware, and glaze 22½ x 14 x 5½ in.
Daruma ca. 1985
Stoneware and glaze 13 x 9 x 9 in.
Kimono ca. 1985
Stoneware and iron oxide 18 x 7½ x 6 in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 21 x 20 x 7½ in.
Medium Teapot 1990
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 20 x 15 x 10½ in.
Burning Field ca. 1995
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 20 x 15 x 8½ in.
Kansas Landscape (Spring) ca. 1995
Stoneware and glaze 20 x 20 x 7½ in.
Raindrop ca. 1995
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 22 x 13 x 5½ in.
ca. 1995 Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 20 x 18 x 6 in.
Flint Hills, 2 pieces
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 19 x 17 x 9 in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 11½ x 9 x 5 in. and 11½ x 10 x 6 in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 22 x 13½ x 5½ in.
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 12½ x 10½ x 5 in.
Large Teapot 2005
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 28 x 20 x 8 in.
Raindrop Teapot 2005
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 32 x 11 x 18 in. Courtesy of Strecker-Nelson Gallery, Manhattan, KS
Stoneware, glaze, and magnesium carbonate 16 x 10½ x 8 in.
Fig. 6, Yoshiro Ikeda holds Burning Field, ca. 1995
Alice C. Sabatini Gallery Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Topeka, KS
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Tokyo, Japan
American Museum of Ceramic Art Nerman Museum of Pomona, CA Contemporary Art Auckland Studio Potters Society Auckland, New Zealand
Ceramics Research Center, ASU Art Museum Arizona State University, Tempe
Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
Glasgow School of Art Glasgow, Scotland
Hardingham Collection Kingston, Jamaica
Kyoto City University of Arts Kyoto, Japan
Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art Kansas State University, Manhattan
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum Yingge, New Taipei, Taiwan
Palmer Museum of Art Penn State, University Park, PA
S達o Paulo Museum of Modern Art S達o Paulo, Brazil
Spencer Museum of Art University of Kansas, Lawrence
The Wichita Center for the Arts Wichita, KS
Brown, Glen R. “Yoshiro Ikeda: El Tiempo Condensado.” Cerámica 77 (2001): 23-25. Hopper, Robin. Functional Pottery: Form and Aesthetic in Pots of Purpose. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2000, 110. Matsuo, Amiko. “Reflections on Biculturalism: Japanese Ceramic Artists in the US.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 60 (2005): 31-35. Morris, Jerod. “Zen Gardens, Dancing Molecules and the Cosmos: The Art of Yoshiro Ikeda.” Ceramics: Art and Perception 45 (2001): 78-81. ———. “Yoshiro Ikeda: The Evolution of a Life’s Work.” Ceramics Monthly 46, no. 5 (May 1998): 43-47. Turner, Anderson. Surface Decoration, Finishing Techniques. Westerville, OH: American Ceramic Society, 2008, 64-66. “Yoshiro Ikeda.” Studio Potter 27, no. 2 (June 1999): 70-71. “Yoshiro Ikeda.” Ceramic Review, no. 175 (January/February 1999): 70. Zakin, Richard. Ceramics: Mastering the Craft. Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2001, 109.