Female Ceramists Who Are Breaking the Mold

Japanese ceramics saw its beginnings some 12,000+ years ago during Japan’s prehistoric Jomon period—and despite the medium’s male-dominated centuries since, these early vessels were made by the hands of women. But prior to the current generation of female ceramists, women have traditionally played only a minor role in the production of ceramics—kneading clay, mixing and adding glazes, accenting teapots with spouts, decorating—working primarily with production ware or as administrators in family workshops, without access to kilns or opportunities for apprenticeships. During the Taishō era (1912–26), in one area of ceramic production, the women’s role was simply to turn the wheels for male potters; “wearing red sashes and kasuri-patterned kimono, the hideshi [female assistants] would help the male craftsmen by singing songs of the potter’s wheel while gently pushing the wheel along with their hands.” Two new exhibitions by Joan B. Mirviss LTD reveal how traditions have been turned. Today, women have emerged as independent artists in a world that had all but proven to be unavailable—and they’re quite literally breaking the mold.

At The Salon: Art + Design, “Breaking the Mold” features ten pioneering female ceramists from distinctly different backgrounds, each a master of the medium and each using clay in new, unconventional ways—from Fukumoto Fuku’s feminine thrown porcelain, inspired by the sea and clouds, to the ethereal, elegant works by Fujikasa Satoko, the youngest of the group.

Also at The Salon, the gallery will present a solo booth of work by Koike Shôko, which will continue in their gallery space uptown. As one of the few self-supporting studio ceramists of her generation, Koike is one of Japan’s most recognized female ceramists, known for works that are inspired by nature—like this body of work, which looks to the sea to capture the shapes of underwater sea mollusks. Formed from Shigaraki clay, the shells are thrown on the wheel but later shaped by hand to achieve their ridged, crimped exteriors. Once they have been coated with creamy white glazes and accented with metallics, iridescents, and shades of turquoise, Koike’s shells take on the forms of lustrous creatures of the sea.

On view at Joan B. Mirviss LTD, The Salon: Art + Design 2013, Design, Booth A12, Nov. 14th – 18th.

“KOIKE SHŌKO: BEYOND THE SEA” is on view at Joan B. Mirviss LTD, New York City, November 14 – December 13, 2013.

Explore The Salon: Art + Design on Artsy.