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Akio Takamori, Beloved Artist and Professor (1950-2017)

Celebrated ceramic artist Akio Takamori was a renowned figure in Seattle and abroad, especially so among art students at the University of Washington where Takamori taught for 21 years. His gentle spirit and love of beauty inspired the same in many of the young artists he mentored, while the influence of Shunga, or Japanese erotic art, on his work no doubt captured their attention.

WAC Announces a New Life for Our Collection

Sam Francis (1923-1994), Composition, 1956, Watercolor and gouache on paper. Collection of Western Washington University.

Takamori was born in 1950, on Kyushu Island, Japan. He was the youngest of three children, his mother helped run his father’s medical clinic, which was attached to their house. He enjoyed a wide library of artworks and medical texts in his childhood home, later studying ceramics and industrial design at the Musashino Art College in Tokyo, where he graduated in 1971.

His career began as an apprentice to a master folk potter in Koishiwara, Kyushu. While working this production job he visited an exhibition of ceramic artists from Latin America, Canada, and the United States, which led him to question his career in production. Not long after, acclaimed ceramicist Ken Ferguson visited the factory and encouraged Takamori to study with him at the Kansas City Art Institute. After Takamori completed his program in Kansas City, he attended graduate school at the New York Sate College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

Over the years, Takamori’s work encompassed traditional industrial pottery, ceramic slab vessels, and oversized figures. He employed photography of his sculptures as another art form, highlighting the difference in experience between the 2D and 3D renderings. His figurative works are especially known for their expression of human emotion and sensuality. In a 2006 interview with the Tacoma News Tribune, Takamori said

“My interest is humanity. That doesn’t change, even over a thousand years. Everyone from a 2-year-old to an old man still has love, compassion, appreciates beauty.”

— Akio Takamori

Takamori’s new work will be exhibited at the James Harris Gallery during February 2017. Drawings and sculptures from his Apology series will be featured; these works examine men in powerful public and corporate roles apologizing. May Takamori’s legacy of love, compassion, and beauty continue to inspire us to embody these principles as we endeavor to change our world for the benefit of all.