When the wheel is spinning very rapidly, by using a special traditional technique… she throws from the inside without touching the outer surface to preserve the natural exterior textures of the clay, which emulate the ever-changing surface of the earth. The shape is altered by the centrifugal forces as it spins.”
About the Artist
Kyoko Tonegawa was born in Japan and came to the United States to attend San Diego State University. She studied ceramics from 1965 to 1970 under Martha Longenecker, founder of the university's ceramics program and later founder of the Mingei International Museum of Ancient and Folk Art in Balboa Park. Ms. Longenecker often used her sabbatical leaves to travel to Japan and there studied under the Japanese master ceramists, Shoji Hamada and Tatsuzo Shimaoka. She subsequently arranged guest professorships for Mr. Shimaoka, as well as for prominent American ceramists, to teach at the university’s summer ceramics sessions where they had great influence on Ms.Tonegawa’s artistic development.
While studying under Ms. Longenecker, Ms. Tonegawa also began teaching ceramics at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, where she taught for two years before moving to Basel, Switzerland in 1971 where she resided for 10 years and shared a studio in near by Rheinfelden with the master potter, Arnold Zahner who specialized in crystal glazes. Ms. Tonegawa taught ceramics with him to the local gymnasium students and together they occasionally led students on excursions to pottery villages in France and Switzerland.
In 1981 she returned to the United States and settled in the Boston area where she joined the Clay Dragon Cooperative ceramics studio in Cambridge. In 1984 she was elected a member of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC) and participated in many of the organizations conferences in Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Korea, and Japan. After the Clay Dragon studio closed in 1985 she established her own studio in her home in Newton, Massachusetts.
Rough textured surfaces have a particular attraction for me because they can be perceived by more than one sense, by sight as well as by touch. As in many traditional Japanese arts, my inspiration comes mostly from Japanese nature with its subdued colors: the bark of a tree, or a lichen covered rock. When I travel, I see from the airplane the patterns of mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, and even the lines of highways creating textures over the curved surface of a gigantic pot.
When making a pot, what do I want to achieve? I want each of my pots to have its own life as if it had emerged from the earth, breathing. I want it to have its own movement, like the shifting sand in the wind, or the flowing of molten lava - a motion sometimes cool, sometimes hot. At times, I view my pot as the whole world, with different atmospheres, oceans, and continents that gather together or drift apart.
I want it to be bathed in colors like the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis or planetary atmospheres. Sometimes it is in the Jovian eye, sometimes the pale moon in the dark sky. I want it to evoke opposing emotions, both the darkness and sadness of "Yin" and the brightness and happiness of "Yang."