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Open lectures on contemporary ceramics

Open lectures on contemporary ceramics organized by Ceramics Now Association, Keiko Fukai, Brian Kakas, Kimberly Cook

Held by Keiko Fukai (Japan), Brian Kakas and Kimberly Cook (U.S.A.) at Matei Corvin House, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
November 2-6, 2012

Ceramics Now Association and The University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca, invites you to participate at three open lectures held by artists and personalities who activate in the field of contemporary ceramics: Keiko Fukai, Brian Kakas and Kimberly Cook. The events are organized in connection with the third edition of Ceramics Now Exhibition, which will be held between 8-26th of November, at Galateea Gallery, Bucharest.

Location: Big Hall, Matei Corvin House, Matei Corvin 6, Cluj-Napoca
Coordinators: Marius Georgescu, Vasi Hîrdo

1st Open Lecture - Keiko Fukai, The history of Keiko Gallery and its artists
Friday, November 2, 6.30 PM

2nd Open Lecture - Kimberly Cook, Drowning in metaphors: Finding my relation to art in metaphor
Tuesday, November 6, 6 PM

3rd Open Lecture - Brian Kakas, Pensive Intonations
Tuesday, November 6, 7 PM

Download full press release and poster / The event on Facebook.


1st Open lecture - Keiko Fukai (Japan)
The history of Keiko Gallery and its artists

Keiko Fukai is the Owner and Director of Keiko Gallery, one of the most appreciated art galleries in U.S.A. that focuses on Japanese art, from ceramics to the innovative lacquer art, textiles, jewelry and painting. Founded in 2003 in Boston, MA, the gallery organized numerous exhibitions of world-recognized Japanese artists.
Keiko Fukai is the representative for four ceramic artists participating in the third Ceramics Now Exhibition at Galateea Gallery, Bucharest: Kentaro Kawabata, Takeuchi Kouzo, Akio Niisato, Shinya Tanoue.

"When I was 34 years old, my husband had a chance to work in US, so we moved to Boston with our two daughters. It was supposed to be a two years stay, but all the family members enjoyed the life in Boston, and our stay was getting longer and longer. One of the most impressive things that I saw in Boston were enormous collection of Japanese art at The Museum of Fine Arts, which is recognized for having one of the most important Japanese art collections in the world. I was overwhelmed by them and at the same time, the memories from my childhood came back to my mind - memories of our small house, even though the pieces in our house were not as great as the museum pieces. But I can definitely tell that my interest in Japanese arts and crafts became bigger by this encounter, and I realized that how special they are.

I was working in a common office in US for several years, when in 1998, my close friend who used to live in Boston moved back to Japan. Then we decided to start a business together. American studio glass is so popular in US, but they were not introduced to the Japanese market, so we organized exhibitions focusing on American studio glass in Japan and asked the galleries or fine department stores to deal with those pieces. While we were doing this business, we met so many Japanese artists who were working with different kind of mediums - ceramics, lacquer, textiles, painting. They have been telling me that I should show their pieces in the US. Their voices were always in my mind.

One day I saw this advertisement that a store was vacant on Charles Street, which was my favorite street in Boston. It is a very charming and tasteful street. I was curious about that advertisement and went to see the space. I didn’t know how I made such a quick decision, but I actually decided on the spot. Maybe I was fearless or heard the voice of angel or devil. But anyway, I took that place and opened the gallery in 2003.”

2nd Open lecture - Kimberly Cook (U.S.A.)
Drowning in metaphors: Finding my relation to art in metaphor

Kimberly Cook is currently an instructor in ceramics at West Valley College, Saratoga, CA. She has been working as an artist, using clay as the primary medium of expression, for ten years. She attended Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, where she studied Liberal Arts, and in 2008 she completed her MFA in Spatial Art at San Jose State University. She has participated in over thirty national and international exhibitions in the past four years.

"Awkward primitive animal instincts lie unconsciously in our genetic make-up. Dominance, survival, reproduction, and group instinct feed our propensity to digress into our egos; cruelty, alpha status, fight or flight, sexual exploits, and pack mentality. In my body of work I create imagery that embodies tension and anxiety, while also reflecting animalistic traits and certain elements of human ritualistic thought and control that intrigue me. Using clay as my primary sculptural material allows me to explore these thoughts and questions using techniques that actually originated in human ritualistic practices. Figures, deities, and fetishes were modeled into both animal and human form for magical or religious practices long before clay was used for utilitarian ware.  This harnessing of imagery deemed as powerful has survived for centuries, allowing humans to access manifestations of supernatural forces believed to improve their daily struggles in life.

Personally and intuitively driven, my work with imagery of animals is grounded in the exploration of the universal human condition, focusing on aspects of the ceremonial; serving as embodiments for the physical, spiritual, and psychological being. My preoccupation with human existence, alienation, fear and apathy, is what motivates me to express elements of autobiography, ritual, and the significance of life’s struggles. Working between narrative and abstract, revealing both the perception of power and powerlessness, the figures and symbols that I create are often purposely rendered disfigured and dysfunctional.”

3rd Open lecture - Brian Kakas (U.S.A.)
Pensive Intonations - Describing the amount of time artists spend thinking and analyzing the world we live in & the time it takes to create a visual aesthetic that allows our visions to be expressed through tangible realities.

Brian Kakas is an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI. He received his MFA in Ceramics from The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN, in 2007. During his masters he focused on large-scale mold making techniques for ceramic vessels through various research grants. Brian has taught and assisted workshops across the world and has been a resident artist in U.S.A., Australia China, Korea and Indonesia.

"Appropriate means of creatively adapting to continual changes have been expressed though practices of art, architecture, science and technology. In this new body of ceramic works, entitled “Tectonic Perceptions”, the intentions are incorporating methodologies and theories from the mentioned practices to create a “new nature” in structural design for ceramic objects. The pieces seek to celebrate the versatility of clay with an aim of fostering new realizations of architectural space. Travels throughout Asia and an array of rich cultural experiences in China have brought about new realizations within the artist’s mind and perceptions of cultural identity, history and space. These relationships have allowed the artist to explore relationships between the strong elements of tradition and modern identities rapidly evolving around the world. Explorations of these interrelationships and the intentions of the maker and his material have led to the new structural ceramic designs.

Through his aspired process of invention, it is the artist’s intent to find a natural form by staying true to chosen materials and their inherent properties. The artist is in pursuit of finding and establishing a formal vocabulary that allows sculptural vessels to exhibit qualities of both unique and handcrafted objects of traditional cultures with that of machine made and mass-produced objects of our contemporary society. Synergism, formations of patterns and structures, of animals, plants and insects have strong influences over the creation of forms.”

"In our time the amount of change in environment to which an individual has to keep on readjusting himself psychologically is so great, and the pace of this change so rapid that the demand is straining the human’s capacity to adapt." (Arnold Toynbee)

The event is organized by Ceramics Now Association and The University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca in partnership with Northern Michigan University and The Romanian Fine Artists Union.

Sponsor: Perla Restaurant

Media partners: Radio România Cultural, Radio Guerrilla, ArtClue, Modernism, Transilvania Reporter, Ziua de Cluj, ArtAct Magazine, Vernisaje, Slicker, Neapărat, Welcome 2 Cluj, Evenimente În Cluj, Şapte Seri, Zile şi Nopţi, Deco şi Eco, ArtLine, PORT, Agenţia de carte.

For inquiries please contact Vasi Hîrdo, Coordinator, at vasi@ceramicsnow.org

Many thanks to everyone involved!


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