Virgina A. Groot Foundation

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Akio Takamori
2001 1st Place recipient

Lives and works in Seattle.


Akio Takamori was born in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan in 1950. The artist’s work, often autobiographical, has focused in recent years on figurative sculpture. The forms he creates of villagers, school children, shopkeepers and infants have been modeled from memory. Drawing on his childhood in Japan, Takamori creates loose communities of figures that are made up of individual pieces with unique, carefully crafted identities.

Growing up in postwar Japan, Takamori experienced a mélange of cultural influences. The son of a dermatologist who ran a clinic located near a red light district, Takamori was exposed to a wide range of people from an early age. At home, his father’s extensive library of both art and medical texts became a fascination for Takamori, who relished everything from Picasso reproductions to anatomical charts.

Takamori’s interest in the arts persisted into early adulthood and upon his graduation from the University of Tokyo, he apprenticed to a master folk potter at Koishiwara, Kyushu. While learning the craft of industrial ceramics in a factory setting, he saw a traveling exhibition of contemporary ceramic art from Latin America, Canada, and the United States. Blown away by what he describes as the “antiauthoritarian” quality of the work, Takamori began to question his future as an industrial potter. When renowned American ceramist Ken Ferguson visited the pottery, the two had an immediate rapport and Ferguson encouraged Takamori go to the United States and study with him at the Kansas City Art Institute.

In 1974 Takamori made the move to the United States, receiving his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and later attending Alfred University in New York for his M.F.A.. After working as a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, he moved to Seattle, Washington in 1993, where he took his current teaching position as associate professor of the ceramics department.

Takamori’s evolution as an artist began as he worked with Ferguson to break free of the constraints of industrial pottery and find new ways to express himself in clay. Since those first years at the Kansas City Art Institute his work has changed greatly, but it has always been figurative, based on the human body and expressive of human emotion and sensuality. In recent years the dramatic, overtly sexual imagery of the vessel forms of the 1980’s and early 90’s have given way to quieter, more contemplative sculptural works that reflect Takamori’s ever-evolving relationship to clay.


1976-78     MFA, New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University,
                 Alfred, New York
1974-76     BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri
1972-74     Apprentice, Traditional Domestic Production Pottery, Koshiwara, Japan
1969-71     Musashino Art College, Tokyo, Japan

Museum Collections

Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana
The Arkansas Arts Center Decorative Arts Museum, Little Rock
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida
Boise Art Museum, Idaho     
Carnegie Institute Art Museum, Pittsburgh
Hallmark Art Collection, Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington
The Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, Indiana
Kruithuis Museum, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Long Beach Museum of Art, California
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
The Museum of Ceramic Arts, Alfred, New York
National Museum of History, Taipei, Republic of China
Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin
Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Schein-Joesph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York
Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park, Shigaraki, Japan
Spencer Museum of Art, Laurence, Kansas
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Republic of China
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England

Selected Solo Exhibitions

James Harris Gallery, Seattle, Washington
Barry Friedman, Ltd., New York
Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Garth Clark Gallery, New York
Grover/Thurston Gallery, Seattle, Washington
Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Garth Clark Gallery, New York

Selected Awards

2006          Joan Mitchell Foundation
2003          Flintridge Foundation Awards for Visual Artists
2001          Virginia A. Groot Award

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