An Interview with the Artist [Slideshow]

Staff Writer

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On Jan. 22, renowned Japanese ceramic artist, Ohi Toshio made an appearance at Piedmont’s Mason-Scharfenstein Museum of Art. Ohi Toshio was born in 1958 and is a native of the cultural city Kanazawa, Japan. He attended Boston University where he earned his master’s degree. He is the eleventh generation of his family’s lineage and has done an excellent job at keeping up the family tradition of creating ceramics.

The show is entitled, “Japanese Pottery: The Rising Generation from Traditional Japanese Kilns.” The collection displayed at Piedmont College features Japanese pottery from various Japanese ceramic artists. About 70 pieces were featured in the exhibit. The collection ranges from whimsical and playful pieces to graceful and elegant to contemporary and modern. The pieces are made from various types of clay that are a rare find in America, and all artists represent a different region in Japan. Ohi Toshio, one of the many artists featured in the collection of Japanese Pottery was able to answer a few questions.

Navigator: When did you realize your passion for pottery?
Ohi Toshio: Since I was a child. At first, I didn’t want to continue my family’s lineage. I didn’t want to be a great artist. But, I went to Boston University Graduate School and studied American ceramics. While living in Boston, I thought that Japanese Tea Ceremony was seen as a contemporary art to Americans. I realized many of my family’s traditional ceramics are contemporary art. Since then, I have a different view from other Japanese artists. So I have a very strong passion about ceramics.

N: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Ot: Each time I make something, I have to have an inspiration first. When I was a child, I thought I wanted to be a poet or a photographer. So whenever I went to a mountain, I would write poetry or take a photograph. From that impression I would go straight to my studio. I make my pieces from that inspiration. When I have an exhibition, I display my photography and poetry all together.

N: Did your family influence your art work?
OT: My father received the highest award from a Japanese emperor. So I have a strong competitiveness to my father, but someday I’ll be great. I try my best. My grandfather was the reason I came back to Japan. For 10 years, he wanted to talk to me, but he was getting weak. He caught pneumonia. If it weren’t for him, I might still be in America.

N: How long does it take to finish one piece?
OT: It takes 56 years. Since I was born, I thought about it, and then I finally made it. So I think it takes a lifetime. I consider ceramics as a life-long process; it’s my life.
N: Did growing up in Kanazawa influence your work?
OT: My city is a very cultural city. So the city gave me a cultural influence. It’s a very traditional and contemporary city.

N: If you could recommend any place in Japan where would it be?
OT: Kanazawa. There is a very good contemporary art museum called the Twenty-first century Art Museum. It’s one of the top five museums in the world. Every year, 1.7 billion people visit the museum. We also have a well- known garden called Kenrokuen.

You still have a little time to catch the show, as it began on Dec. 10 and will continue to run until Jan. 31. More information about all exhibits at the Mason- Schaferstein Museum of Art can be found on