I had always liked to draw and paint when I was young, but I came to ceramics in a roundabout way.
Following my junior year at Princeton University, I studied Chinese in Taiwan for two years, and was exposed to the magnificent ceramic legacy of China. It was then that I was first “moved” by a piece of pottery; it was a kind of soft drowning into the calmness in the center of a remarkable celadon bowl. Something there attracted me on a very basic level - a form, a texture and a color which created in me a sense of calm, of groundedness, that was very fundamental and soothing for me.
Appreciation of ceramics was as far as it went until a few years later. I was in Japan to study Japanese, and frequented a coffee shop near my apartment where the manager and I often spoke English/Japanese with each other. One day, he casually mentioned that he was teaching a pottery class in the culture center in the same building and asked me if I wanted to study. Without really thinking too much about it, I agreed. That was in 1976. In the two years that I studied the basics of pottery with Nishimura Eijiro, I discovered that several aspects of pottery appealed to me very much: the magic transformation of clay on the potter’s wheel; the exciting unpredictability of the final product; the physicality (it can be hard and dirty work, especially in a Tokyo summer); the fact that I could use my products in my daily life; and the satisfaction of creating something beautiful out of a lump of clay.
For the next eight years, however, much of my time was taken up with establishing DLD Inc. (we design and implement corporate language-training programs). In my free time, I dabbled in pottery on and off, trying to solve the problem of giving myself some kind of workplace in Tokyo, where spaces are small and expensive. I went from a one-tatami-mat nook to a corner of a room to a “studio” on my apartment balcony, and finally in 1988 to a house where I could build a “real” studio - still only about eight tatami mats, crowded but fully equipped - and where I could begin a serious exploration of ceramics. I was very fortunate at that time to become acquainted with Richard Accardi, an American who had studied pottery in the United States before coming to live in Japan. For ten years we carried on a stimulating collaboration, experimenting with clay and glaze formulation, techniques of forming and firing, design and aesthetics. This cross-sharing in the creative process was extremely valuable in my development as a craftsman/artist.
I have spent many years and countless hours attempting to master the craft of pottery, and certainly there’s always more to learn. Up to the present, my main goal has been to create beautiful things that evoke that sense of calmness and quietude that affects me so deeply. And while that will always be a part of my work, I feel that I am only at the beginning of a long exploration of the expressive possibilities of clay. Future projects include: continuing exploration of functional pottery, clays & glazes; developing new lines of ceramic lamps; creating sculptural ceramics; visiting more kilns in Japan.