Oral history interview with Akio Takamori, 2009 March 20-21
Takamori, Akio, 1950-
Riedel, Mija, 1958-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
8 wav files (7 hr., 51 min.) : digital
Transcript: 184 pages
Originally recorded on 4 sound discs. Reformatted in 2010 as 8 digital wav files. Duration is 7 hr., 51 min.
An interview of Akio Takamori conducted 2009 March 20-21, by Mija Riedel, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Takamori's studio, in Seattle, Washington.
Interview of Akio Takamori, conducted by Mija Reidel for the Archives of American Art, in Seattle, Washington on March 20, 2009. Takamori speaks of growing up in Nobeoka, Japan where his father ran a medical clinic in a diverse part of town; the post war structure of society and the buildings themselves; his interest in art as a young childing drawing figural scenes; class and social situations he observed as a child; his father's interest in both Japanese and Western art; an interest in Peter Bruegel that turned into a lifelong inspiration; the role of politics in his family; moving to Miyazaki, Japan as a young teenager to live with his grandparents while going to school; joining the art club in high school and his fellow club mates who introduced him to more contemporary Japanese and European art; creating Happenings in high school; his interest in county folklore and superstitions and its eventual role in his art; the interaction between Western contemporaries and Japanese traditions in his work; his interest in art history; attending Musashino Art College in Tokyo, Japan where he majored in industrial ceramics; being dissatisfied with college; his political activism while in college; experimenting with paper mache to create three dimensional objects; the mingei movement; his apprenticeship in Koishiwara, Japan where he learned the fundamentals of functional potter; meeting lifelong friends such as Christ Holmquist and mentor Ken Ferguson while in Koishiwara; moving to the United States in 1974 and attending Kansas City Art Institute under the direction of Ferguson; various projects he undertook while finishing his degree at Kansas City; receiving his MFA from Alfred University, where he experimented with the idea of what contemporary art should be; his slab pieces; his first residency at the Archie Bray foundation in Helena, Montana and his continued relationship with the Foundation; traveling between Japan and the United States while acting as a substitute professor at various universities; his relationship with Garth Clark's gallery for over 20 years; teaching full time as a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, beginning in 1993; the importance of stressing both technique and creativity; his joy at watching the development of his students; transitions in his work brought on each decade and through constant travel; the role of globalization in his work; the narrative of the group pieces he has created in recent years; his memory as constant inspiration and more recent projects, including larger, figurative works. Takamori also recalls Victor Babu, Val Cushing, Wayne Higby, Tony Hepburn, Ted Randall, Robert Turner, William Perry, Peter Voulkos, Rudy Autio, David Shaner, Jun Kaneko, Jamie Walker, Doug Jeck, Amie McNeel, Mark Zirpel, Patti Warashina, Viola Frey, Betty Woodman, Elizabeth Brown, Josh DeWeese and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Akio Takamori, 2009 March 20-21. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Akio Takamori (1950- ) is a ceramist in Seattle, Washington.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001