Thursday, February 4, 2010

Toshiko's Pots at the Newark Museum

Hello from the view at my computer instead of my potter's wheel! It's been photography and photo editing (for clarity only; I promise I'm not making them look other than they should!) and working with Web-a-Deb on the website. Oh my gosh, this stuff takes a year and a day. You know when a pottery woman's fingernails are growing that she hasn't been handling the clay lately.

Down in the studio, the kiln is firing away, cooking up a load of small plates and a few other things. A few lucky duckies get plates from me in a few weeks on Purim. The rest will be for sale. I hope they come out as nice as I think they will...

I haven't exactly been idle. With the anniversary of my mother's death coming up, I am thinking of what to say, since I usually speak at our annual family gathering on this date. So I have been trip-trapping over the bridge of time to letters and relatives' memories of an era before I was born. It is like existing in another dimension for a little while, then resurfacing. I am fascinated, and honestly, it is bittersweet, because my mother is close to my heart.

But back to art, since I digress here from clay ruminations, as I have in life recently! The Newark Museum in Newark, NJ, is a strange configuration of rooms with all sorts of items grouped in relatively small collections, into time periods and art movements. I had to wander a bit, even with map in hand- and it was interesting wandering, with some highlights!- but eventually I found my destination.

Off in one little room, all by themselves, are the ceramic objects that I had come especially to see. To nourish my curiosity and my heart and mind, suffering clay withdrawal due to all the other things that have occupied me, I stood before each piece and took it in. It may sound crazy, but I felt myself absorbing their presence almost with a little whoosh of induction. Toshiko Takaezu's forms, in smooth stony colors, like moons, some round, or tall, cylindrical, like rocks: these closed forms are so quiet and yet so strong at the same time. Some have vestiges of an almost-opening, a tiny conical peak at their very top to remind that these were, indeed, created in the same methods as utilitarian vessels. They are meant to be part of a landscape, I think, though when grouped together, they are a landscape.

There is nothing showy about them, but Takaezu's forms satisfy something so powerful within me that I seek them out wherever they are on display. One of the forms was a garden seat. It is just a sort of short, voluminous round stalk that flares out as it proceeds upward from the ground, terminating in a very slightly convex top that can be used as a seat. It is easy to visualize it set in grass or sand, a perch from which to absorb the smell of earth, sound of birds, feel of wind.

The garden seat form is symbolic to me. Sometimes I am reminded of what it is to just be quiet and observe the life around us. Eventually, I find, it likes to spill over into my work.

Toshiko is in her 80s now. Long life to her!

1 comment:

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