80 Years of Ceramic Mastery

The Crow Museum of Asian Art invited me to get a glimpse of their new exhibit Hands and Earth: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics, a gallery featuring stunning works by 35 master ceramicists from Japan.

On display for the first time in North Texas, this exhibition showcases selections of important pieces by Japanese ceramic artists in the last 80 years. The museum space is cozy and intimate, allowing me to take my time as I study the wide range of ceramic pieces in the room. I’ve always had a high interest in Japanese culture growing up, especially when it came to the arts. Japan is known for its precision when it comes to detail, and you can see that practice through this exhibit.

Fun fact: Did you know since 1950, the Japanese government has bestowed the title of “Living National Treasures” to artists who have attained the highest level of mastery in their chosen fields of discipline? Of the 35 artists in this exhibition, seven have been honored with this designation. Don’t worry; I won’t spoil the surprise for you all. I will, however, share a few of my personal favorites from the collection:

“How fortunate that the Crow Museum of Asian Art has a chance to present these works to North Texans for the first time!” -Amy Lewis Hofland

Before we started the tour, senior curator Dr. Jacqueline Chao brought up the fact that we’ve all had our experience with clay if you ever played with Playdoh. I kept that in mind as I examined all the fine details in these ceramics. Some of the artists were even able to mimic other textures you wouldn’t believe were made from clay like feathers, water pellets, and sand. I don’t remember my Playdoh creations ever looking like this. There’s so much time, and precision put into each of these modern pieces, yet they still often mirror the artistic tradition that began thousands of years ago in Japan.

The exhibition draws from the collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz, who has obtained a collection of major Japanese modern and contemporary ceramics. Their collection of more than 1,000 works is the largest – public or private – of contemporary Japanese ceramics outside of Japan. “As passionate collectors of Japanese ceramics, Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz have been on a mission to not only assemble these works by world-renowned master artists but to also share and educate people regarding the artistry, beauty, cultural significance and intention of their works,” said Amy Lewis Hofland, director of the Crow Museum.

One of my dreams became a reality when I had the chance to visit Japan for the first time last November. I fell head-over-heels in love and plan to visit Japan numerous times in my life span, but that takes time and money. So it nice to have folks like the Horvitz who generously share their gifts with Dallas and facilities like the Crow Museum that continues to promote and educate the community about the arts and culture of Asia.

The exhibition, now open, runs until Jan. 5, 2020.

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Imani Chet Lytle

Imani Chet spends most of her time behind the scenes at People Newspapers handling design and marketing tasks, but you can occasionally catch her out and about covering the latest museum openings, musical concerts, and delicious new food menus in the area – and all through her trusty dusty iPhone camera. Catch some of the action on our instagram page: @peoplenewspapers

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