Archive for the ‘Workshops & Masterclasses’ Category

Meng Zhao Sculpture

Meng Zhao came to the Harvard Ceramics Program studio as an Artist in Residence in 2005, where he has taught classes in traditional Chinese brush painting and clay surface design. Inspired by ancient Chinese rocks and water forms, and by Chinese philosophy, Zhao’s work has brought him wide recognition and several prizes, including the Gold Medal at the 53rd International Ceramic Art Competition in Faenza, Italy, 2003.

Zhao’s current work reflects his process of bridging the two distinct cultures of ancient East and modern West. His sculptural pieces explore the ancient paradigms of Chinese art to test the boundaries of form and balance, surface and texture, made possible with clay and glazes. Zhao prefers clay for the qualities of flexibility and suppleness of the material. Philosophically he is attracted by the combination of elements in the ceramics process, earth and water, fire and air, complementing each other rather than competing with each other.

Rocks in China have long been admired as an essential feature in gardens, representing a miniaturization of mountains and inviting meditation and contemplation. Prized by collectors, scholar’s rocks are a natural sculptural form, found and refined, and can be viewed as a major three-dimensional tradition of Chinese art. Non-traditional colors, textures, and shapes have emerged in the rock and water pieces Zhao has created at the Harvard Ceramics Program. Zhao creates his scholar’s rocks with an eye to his Asian past and with a hand in contemporary clay sculpture. Similarly, Zhao creates clay images of water and waves that have a visual reference to the calligraphic line in Chinese brush painting. Following the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as a source of inspiration, Zhao uses the philosophy of vacuity or emptiness, “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”, as a common theme in his work.

Meng Zhao

 We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.  We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends. We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends. Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

 Chapter 11 of the Tao Te Ching  (translated by Waley)

 –Maria Luisa Mansfield, excerpted from vol. 1, number 1 Summer 2008 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter


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Japanese Art historian, Andrew Maske, and Hamada Tomoo (grandson of Japan’s National Living Treasure, Hamada Shoji)  discuss recent tea bowl scholarship  with an audience of 70 students and art professionals at the Ceramics Program.


Hamada, Tomoo demonstrated glazing and gave a presentation about his family legacy in Mashiko. He is the grandson of Hamada Shoji, “National Living Treasure” and THE major figure of the mingei folk-art movement.

“Hamada, Tomoo’s pots utilize essentially the same materials as those of Hamada Shinsaku(his father) and Hamada Shoji (his grandfather) – glazes like reddish brown kaki, brown tenmoku, cobalt blue, white rice straw ash, bluish-white namako, green seiji, black kurogusuri, creamy nuka, translucent namijiro, and runny-green wood ash, all used to cover a speckled tan clay dug and formulated right in Mashiko. Unlike his elders, however, Tomoo has become much more daring in the use of unconventional shapes, extensive application of overglaze enameled decorations, and surface textures. In particular, his tiered fl asks (HT21) are very progressive, and unlike anything seen before in a mingei genre. It is clear that Tomoo has been looking beyond the works of his forebears, examining works from the early English Arts and Crafts movement, and even from art nouveau.” — Andrew L. Maske

*This program was presented in conjunction with an exhibition at
the Pucker Gallery, 171 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
from June 13 through July 20, 2009.
“Hamada: Three Generations of Japanese Potters”
Opening Reception: June 13, 2009, 3 – 6 pm
Potter’s Event: Sunday, June 14, 3 – 5 pm
RSVP to justine@puckergallery.com

“The world of traditional ceramics in Japan naturally places great emphasis on lineage. Lines of potters that began in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century are now in their fourteenth or fifteenth generations. A lineage of only three generations may seem insignificant by comparison, but (the exhibition at Pucker Gallery) by the Hamada family makes it clear that it is not the length of the line that is most important, but rather the quality of the work.”— Andrew L. Maske

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Monday, March 30, 2009 at 10 am – 12 pm

Presentation and demonstration by Niisato Akio on his translucent porcelain vessels and sculpture.nisato4_crop_web

Niisato Akio has mastered and adapted the historic technique of imbedding rice grains in porcelain in order to create translucent patterns of light that interact with his sculptural and vessel forms.

If you want to join us, RSVP to Nancy Selvage at selvage@fas.harvard.edu. Fee: Free for Harvard Students and Ceramics Program participants; $35 for all others

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