Takamori was born in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan in 1950 October 11. The son of an obstetrician/gynecologist who ran a clinic, Takamori was exposed to a wide range of people from an early age. At home, his father’s extensive library of both art and medical texts became a fascination for Takamori, who relished everything from Picasso reproductions to anatomical charts.
Takamori’s interest in the arts persisted into early adulthood and upon his graduation from the Musashino Art College in 1971, he apprenticed to a master folk potter at Koishiwara, Fukuoka, Kyushu - Koishiwara ware. While learning the craft of industrial ceramics in a factory setting, he saw a traveling exhibition of contemporary ceramic art from Latin America, Canada, and the United States. Blown away by what he describes as the “antiauthoritarian” quality of the work, Takamori began to question his future as an industrial potter. When renowned American ceramist Ken Ferguson visited the pottery, the two had an immediate rapport and Ferguson encouraged Takamori go to the United States and study with him at the Kansas City Art Institute.
In 1974 Takamori made the move to the United States, receiving his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and later attending Alfred University in New York for his M.F.A. After working as a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, he moved to Seattle, Washington in 1993, where he took his current teaching position as associate professor of the ceramics department.
Akio Takamori died of pancreatic cancer on January 11, 2017.
Takamori’s evolution as an artist began as he worked with Ferguson to break free of the constraints of industrial pottery and find new ways to express himself in clay. Since those first years at the Kansas City Art Institute his work has changed greatly, but it has always been figurative, based on the human body and expressive of human emotion and sensuality.
In the 1980s, Takamori worked innovatively with the vessel form and its structure, creating flat envelope shaped pots formed from slabs. Once the ceramic piece was finished, he would paint onto the surface adding details of the figures that he was representing. These figures often explored human relationships. His work in this format lasted about ten years.
In the mid-1990s a visit to the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands resulted in a shift from vessels back to an early interest in sculpture and the figure. Takamori created groupings of standing figural sculptures. The figures portray historical characters, contemporary society and rural villagers recalled from the artist's childhood in Japan.
Most of Takamori’s work has been strongly influenced by his Japanese heritage. He has translated traditional Japanese prints into three-dimensional porcelain sculptures, he recreated his hometown in Japan from memory using clay, and he has translated Peter Bruegel’s paintings into sculptures of Japanese people.
Takamori collaborated with Master Printer Mike Sims, of The Lawrence Lithography Workshop in Kansas City, Missouri, to create a series of prints that combine digital images of his ceramic sculptures with more traditional lithography printing techniques.