Pasadena Ceramic Exhibition: Shumei Hall Gallery hosting Shigaraki collection, ongoing

Club-shaped Wall Vase (Kakehana) By Takahashi Rakusai V (b.1954) Shigaraki ware, stoneware with ash glaze. Collection of Gordon Brodfuehrer.

Crafted from the Earth: The Rugged Beauty of Shigaraki Ceramics

Exhibition at the Shumei Hall Gallery, Pasadena
November 3, 2018 to January 13, 2019

Curated by Meher McArthur

Shumei Hall: 2430 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Galley Hours: 9:30 am – 6 pm, Monday – Saturday
Opening Reception: Nov. 3, 2 pm – 5 pm

This exhibition is supported by the Japan Foundation, Los Angeles.

As part of the Pasadena-wide Art and Science (AXS) Festival 2018, the Shumei Arts Council will present Crafted from the Earth: The Rugged Beauty of Shigaraki Ceramics, an exhibition that explores Japan’s renowned and admired Shigaraki ceramic tradition from the perspectives of art and science. The exhibition is sponsored by Japan Foundation, Los Angeles.

Shigaraki, located in Shiga prefecture close to the ancient capital of Kyoto, is one of Japan’s oldest kiln centers, and has produced stoneware ceramics since the 12th century.

Shigaraki wares derive much of their character from the local silica-rich clay sourced from the bed of nearby Lake Biwa. The clay is also rich in iron, which gives the body its warm orange tone, and feldspar, which bursts out onto the surface during firing and creates a characteristic rough texture.

During high-temperature firings in anagama (single-chambered sloping kilns), the wood used to fuel the kilns creates ash that lands on the surfaces of the objects and creates patches of natural brown and green glaze.

All of these chemical factors in the creation of these ceramics resulted in warm, rustic wares, seemingly born organically from the earth. Though these ceramics were originally utilitarian, their natural beauty made them highly prized by tea masters as wares for the tea ceremony, and since the 16th century, tea bowls, jars, dishes, vases and other vessels from the Shigaraki kilns have been one of Japan’s most beloved and collected ceramics.

The exhibition is curated by Japanese art historian Meher McArthur and will feature a selection of Shigaraki ceramics from two San Diego collections.

The works were all created by contemporary ceramic artists based in Shigaraki, but they were made using traditional materials and techniques and feature many of the ware’s most notable characteristics – including natural ash glaze, feldspathic inclusions and glaze pooling known as “dragonfly eye.” Many of the vessels included in the exhibition were made to hold flowers, so they will be displayed holding floral arrangements, or ikebana.

Included will be 3 or 4 photographs of the region and samples of the clay, glaze ingredients and wood for firing the kiln – all to illustrate the relationship between the wares and the natural world from which they are created.

The opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 3, 2018 from 2pm to 5pm.

Traditional Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations incorporating high-quality Shigaraki tea bowls will be held at 3pm and 4pm at a cost of $10 per person, and will include handmade, organic wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets).

RSVPs are required and can be made by calling the Shumei Hall at 626-584-8841.

Biography of Meher McArthur

About the Shumei Arts Council

For more details about the Crafted from Clay exhibition and the Shumei Arts Council, please contact Cathy Capalla at

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