Ceramic art pieces in the “Michi” traveling exhibit, Part 3

Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic artist at Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL USA.

This is the third blog in the “Michi” exhibit series.

On March 17 2016 I visited a ceramic art exhibit in the Western part of Missouri.  In the town of Warrensburg, in the University of Central Missouri’s Gallery of Art & Design a number of Japanese American ceramic artist showed their latest creations.  The exhibit was titled “Michi”; the subtitle of the exhibit was “Distinctive Paths, Shared Affinity”.    While the artistic philosophies, the clay-forming and glazing techniques, the subject matters, the decorative or utilitarian nature of the pieces varied tremendously among the participating artists, there was a unifying circumstance among the artists.  They were working in the United States, but because of being born in Japan, or because of being brought up in Japanese families in the US, they were all affected by Japanese culture.   This cultural influence by traditional Japanese art is strikingly clear in some cases; other ventured far from that influence.  The exhibit travels throughout the United States as described here: http://www.michiexhibition.com/traveling-schedule/

Esther Shimazu

She was born in Hawaii, and currently works in Kailua, Hawaii.  As she says in her statement, she grew up with traditional, rural Japanese culture, and was attracted to clay early through making functional pottery and religious objects.  Later she discovered “netsuke”,  these carved ceramic connectors of traditional Japanese boxes to the sashes on robes.  (Explore more here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netsuke).    The netsuke were the inspiration for the small sculptural works she brought to the MICHI exhibit.

The topics of her sculptures are natural, folklore, scenes from ordinary life.   See more works from her here: esthershimazu.com.


"As and Aside" by Esther Shimazu
“As and Aside” by Esther Shimazu

Shumpei Yamaki

He was born in Japan, and currently works in West Branch, Iowa.  Shumpei was trained in wood-fired ceramics and the traditional Japanese ceramic techniques. He views clay as the single opportunity to create something.  He calls this the “ichigo ichie” idea, meaning one encounter, one opportunity.  He states that the clay on the table tells him how dinosaurs may be reborn, and the clay also tells him just how to move his hands to create his pieces.  You can see more of Shumpei’s pieces here:  http://www.shumpeiyamaki.com/


"Allosaurus" by Shimpei Yamaki
“Allosaurus” by Shumpei Yamaki


"Jar 1" and "Jar 2" by Shumpei Yamaki
“Jar 1” and “Jar 2” by Shumpei Yamaki

Ayumi Horie

She grew up in a Japanese immigrant family, and currently works in Portland, Maine.  Her porcelain pieces looked strikingly colorful, as the drawings of the rabbit, trees and birds are in red and blue.  Two cups seemingly had no pattern on them, but this was because she used a white glaze on porcelain, and you had to look very close to see a pattern.  In her works she tries to find and show the “natsukashi” which is a sentimental long lost memory of something.   Another guide in her work is the “kawaii, which is the expression of cute.  To see more of her work, and her involvement in social action look here:



"Rabbit jar", "Musk Ox cup", "Bird bowl", "Minogame cup" by Ayumi Horie
“Rabbit jar”, “Musk Ox cup”, “Bird bowl”, “Minogame cup” by Ayumi Horie


Megumi Naitoh

She was born in Japan, and currently works in Boston, Massachusetts.  Her work stood out int his exhibit, because of the orange plastic shapes that were incorporated into her work.  According to her statement Megumi often visits the 3D digital image databases such as Google 3DWarehouse, Thingiverse, Autodesk Gallery, and he models some of those 3D digital images in clay.  She believes that the still life she creates this way is just as much a reflection on the images and their symbolism, as the 17th century still life paintings. In her work on this exhibit you mat recognize the features of folded clay, she calls “orime”.  On her website (http://www.meguminaitoh.com/)  you can see orgami-like folded clay teacups and saucers.

Ultimately, Megumi views her work as the dichotomy of clay and most recent technological developments.

"Composition with Skull and Daffodil" and "Composition with Skull" by Megumi Naitoh
“Composition with Skull and Daffodil” and “Composition with Skull” by Megumi Naitoh



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