Her glazes often involved splashing and pouring techniques that produced unintended effects, as with action painting.
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And the very act of firing pottery produced accidental effects. But rather than throwing out pieces that didn't turn out as expected, she often embraced these effects. In , she received a Tiffany Foundation Grant, which allowed her to go on an extended leave from teaching.
While on leave, she established a studio in Clinton, New Jersey. She eventually decided to make the leave permanent, and left her job, teaching workshops around the country while setting up her studio. In , she took a faculty position at nearby Princeton University, where she would remain until In , she moved to larger home and studio space in Quakertown, New Jersey, where she remains. Both residences had ample space not only for her ceramic work, but for flower and vegetable gardens that were her other passion. Though she once considered having a family, she told Tomi Kaizawa Knaefler in the s, " Maybe I was afraid to find the right person.
It takes the right combination to make it possible to have a family and to do your work as well.
Maybe it was just not meant to be. While gaining increasing acclaim for her work in the '60s and '70s, she remained dedicated to teaching. She trained a succession of apprentices who lived with her in her studio and who took part in every aspect of her life and work, from gardening to cleaning to social events.
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Said to be warm and sensitive as a teacher, she also demanded a strict work ethic, which not all of her students could respond to. Her work continued to develop and change.
In the mids, she began making what she called "moon forms," closed, spherical ceramic pots with the vent completely removed. The vent was at the bottom, hidden from view. One, titled Gaea , was a series of four such pots which are arranged on hammocks. She also began making tree forms which were sometimes assembled in groups with titles such as Lava Forest or Tree-Man Forest. The latter, a series of seven such forms in a field of crushed rock, included some that reached over eight feet in height.
In the s, she began to experiment with handbuilt rather than thrown forms such as "hearts" and "torsos," which, as the names indicate, suggest human and lifelike allusions. Also in the '80s came works sculpted from bronze, with forms reminiscent of her ceramic work, but also some forms that would be impossible in clay. In the s, access to a larger kiln at Skidmore College in Saratoga, New York has led to larger and more complex forms of both the thrown and built variety, with elemental sounding names such as Field of Lava , Oil of the Earth , and Birth.
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For pieces like these, she worked on a scaffolding that is raised as the piece grows. By the s, she was regarded as one of the world's foremost ceramic artists. One culmination of her status was her being awarded the Dickinson Collge Art Award for Awarded only twelve times previously, previous recipients included poet Robert Frost and architect Eero Saarinen.
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Takaezu created more than new pieces for an exhibition accompanying the award ceremony. In , the major Honolulu art museums collaborated to put on an overarching career retrospective. It is common for Japanese musicians today to divide their activities between Tokyo and New York or other music centers around the world. But the practice was all but unheard of in the s and 60s.
One of the first performers to manage it was jazz pianist Akiyoshi Toshiko. Born in in Japanese colonial ruled Manchuria, Akiyoshi first took up the piano while still in the first grade. She started performing professionally at 16, working as a jazz pianist at a US military base in the famous hot springs town of Beppu.
Following the advice of a musician friend, she moved to Tokyo in At the time the city was bustling with occupation troops. The camps housing military personnel had various nightly entertainment, and there was plenty of work for anyone who could play a musical instrument. Akiyoshi threw herself into this strange and exciting world.
The city was full of dancehalls—some for Japanese, some for the Americans—so there was a huge demand for musicians. Most of the Japanese players had previously been in military bands.
Although performing regularly, Akiyoshi was not satisfied with this kind of work. Looking for a different sound, she immersed herself in the latest records from the United States, and in this way honed her ear for authentic jazz performance. The music scene in Japan at the time was dominated by dance-oriented styles like swing. VB: In one of your interviews, you named architects who influenced you most. One was Togo Murano . What was it that attracted you to his work, since his architecture did not have a particular distinctive character, right? He was responsive to the context in a very specific way.
His architecture is traditional, but he would always transform it in some interesting ways to make the work his own and contemporary. He walked right on the edge between a fantasy and reality.
His work is vernacular and contemporary at the same time; he conceptualized his ways to put old right against new in a very subtle and fresh manner. He has done large projects: a train station, department stores, theaters, and hotels all over Japan, and particularly a well-known Miyako Hotel in Kyoto.
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I learned about him through my studies as an architect, but I remember going to his buildings as a child. Your architecture seems to be more rooted in American Modernism. Would you agree and how conscious is this for you? TM: I spent my adolescent and student years here, so I think it is only natural to relate to the background in which you grow up.
My background and the background of most of my professors was American and European Modernism. TM: My work is all about the context. Relating the project to the specific site, whether urban or rural, and resolving the materiality of the project is very important to me. Every new building is an invention. Every project starts from zero. We never impose any particular style. But I think there is definitely a common thread in our work, even if a project such as our cultural center for Sinthian in Senegal looks completely different from our house in Ghent, New York.
They are very different but if you x-ray them, there are commonalities in our approach. TM: Clarity for sure. Clarity of expression.
Clarity of a concept. The intention is to make something very simple, which is very difficult to achieve. I like to tackle complex issues by coming up with simple solutions. Could you talk about details in your work? TM: Details is something where concept, program, technology, engineering, tectonic, materiality, all fuse together.
In different projects, we focus on different details. Sometimes a project can be obsessively detailed; sometimes it can be detailed very loosely and informally. There are different ways in how we approach details. The ideas are in the details. Form is a form; it comes and goes, but for me, it is the details that carry ideas and intentions.
VB: So it goes without saying that you never recycle your details from project to project.
TM: Not really. For example, I try to use small steel members spaced at short distances to make an impression as if the building is made of wood. The intention is to make steel buildings appear to be much more delicate than one would expect them to be. I always play with different ideas and how they can affect appearances and perceptions. For example, it may not be apparent, what is structural and what is not.