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Art in the Garden: Kizuna, The Rebirth of Mashiko Ceramics

June 6-July 5, 2015
Pavilion Gallery
Regular Garden Hours
Included with Garden Admission

Kizuna is a phrase often repeated in Japan since the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Loosely translated as “the bonds between people,” it says that we are all part of one family and need each other’s help in order to survive both physically and emotionally. After the earthquake, everyone had to pull together to help each other get back on their feet. Nowhere was this more evident than in the remote pottery town of Mashiko, where potters’ studios, kilns, and priceless works were destroyed. Since then, with a little help from their friends throughout Japan and abroad, Mashiko potters have pulled together to rebuild their damaged kilns and regain the confidence to carry on their traditions.

This spring, the Portland Japanese Garden is honored to partner with the newly formed Mashiko Ceramics and Arts Association (MCAA), the Oregon Potters Association (OPA), and the Pucker Gallery of Boston to bring the work of 13 Mashiko artists, including 11 contemporary potters and masterworks by the great (former) Living National Treasure artists Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

Last year, the Garden was honored to receive the gift of 26 pieces of Shimaoka’s work from the 1970s—a very generous donation from his daughter, glass artist Yoshiko Fudeya of Mashiko.  Several fine pieces from the Shimaoka Collection will be on view in the exhibition, along with works by Hamada, six on loan from the Shimaoka family collection and two from the Pucker Gallery in Boston.

At the heart of the exhibition is the work of 11 contemporary potters from Mashiko—men and women who were faced with rebuilding their kilns and studios after the 2011 Earthquake. Much fine work was lost in the earthquake and much soul searching (and fundraising!) had to be done to restore their work, their town and their spirit. Former students and friends from around the world sent donations to Mashiko, and in 2013 the MCAA opened its doors as a cooperative center for the promotion and sale of work by Mashiko artists and potters. Since then, they have been working to re-build their lives and find new directions for their work, as we see in the beautiful ceramics they bring to Portland this spring.

Says Diane Durston, the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Arts & Education, “This exhibition celebrates not only the strength of the ties that bind potters in this one pottery town in Japan, but the ties that bind across oceans and which brought like-minded artists to each other’s rescue.”

Spearheaded by Portland ceramic artist Ruri who once apprenticed with Tatsuzo Shimaoka, this exhibition is held in collaboration with the OPA which will be featuring Mashiko artists in their annual Ceramic Showcase in May, organizing pottery workshops at various locations with some of the six visiting artists who will travel to Portland to attend the opening of the Garden’s exhibition.

Read more about the history of Mashiko Ceramics.

This exhibition is done in collaboration with the MCAA, the OPA, the Pucker Gallery of Boston and the Japan Foundation.

The Art in the Garden 2015 exhibition series is supported by grants from The Collins Foundation, the ESCO Foundation, the William G. Gilmore Foundation, the Henry Lea Hillman, Jr. Foundation, the Jackson Foundation, the PacifiCorp Foundation, and the Rose E. Tucker Charitable Trust.