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Tomonari Kiyoshi. Small globular vase, Showa period (1926–1989), late 1960s–early 1970s, stoneware with natural ash glaze. University of Michigan, Gift of Ann Holmes, 2013/1.310

In Focus: Modern Japanese Folk Ceramics

August 9 - October 30, 2016

Artist and poet Ann Holmes first encountered Japanese folk ceramics while living in Tokyo in the late 1960s.

Fascinated by the simple aesthetic, the craftsmanship, and the makers’ unassuming personalities and ways of life, Holmes visited many kiln towns to photograph and interview the artists and collect ceramic wares of various shapes and techniques. She donated a significant portion of her collection to UMMA in 2013.

Richly introduced in this presentation are works by ceramic artists emerging in the late 1960s and the early 1970s in the town of Mashiko, two hours north of Tokyo by train. Mashiko became an international mecca of folk ceramics after Hamada Shōji (1894–1978), a major figure of Japan’s Folk Craft (Mingei) Movement, set up his studio there in 1930. Hamada’s idea of ceramic making for a new age, which combined the aesthetic of folk ceramics and the modern concept of the studio artist, attracted many younger artists of unconventional backgrounds, including women.