New Teaching Museum exhibition showcases works by 16 Japanese-American ceramic artists

5 September 2016

A new exhibition in the Carleton College Perlman Teaching Museum will showcase works by 16 Japanese-American ceramic artists. Michi: Distinctive Paths, Shared Affinity opens Friday, September 16 at 7 p.m. with a lecture by co-curators Yoshi Fujii and Juliane Shibata ’01, followed by a reception from 8 to 9:30 p.m.

Japanese pottery, from ancient Jomon pots to the early 20th-century Mingei movement through contemporary innovations, has played a powerful role in shaping American ceramics. Terms including wabi-sabi, raku, and anagama are common vocabulary throughout the ceramics field, and artists of all kinds study chanoyu (the art of tea ceremony) and ikebana (the art of flower arranging). Craft and process, at the heart of the apprenticeship tradition in Japan, are now key focal points for young ceramicists studying with traditional potters across the United States. 

Michi showcases works by 16 ceramic artists working in the United States. In addition to introducing some of the best contemporary ceramics to new audiences, the curators aim to highlight how individual artistic paths converge in a common connection to Japan. Michi literally means “road,” but it can also signify “path,” “way,” “history,” or “story.” Although each ceramicist’s michi is distinct and personal, the artists share common ground in design, aesthetics and concepts that stem from their Japanese heritage.

The sixteen Michi artists, all living and working in the United States, are connected to Japan through birth and heritage. Ten were born in Japan, two are natives of Hawaii, and the rest had parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents who moved from Japan to make America their home. The exhibition presents a diverse array of approaches, from functional to purely sculptural, employing techniques ranging from hand to computer-modeling, electric through high fire and wood fire, slip casting to wheel throwing.

The Michi exhibition is supported by the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America and was presented at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ (NCECA) 50th annual conference programming in March 2016. The exhibit comes to Carleton College thanks to support from the Baltimore Kawasaki Sister City Committee, Perlman Teaching Museum at Carleton College, Robert M. MacNamara Foundation, Towson University, and private donors.

Michi runs through November 16 in the Kaemmer Family Gallery of the Perlman Teaching Museum. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday-Friday; and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday. Admission is free. The Perlman Teaching Museum is located in the Weitz Center for Creativity, located at Third and College Streets in Northfield. For more information, call 507-222-4342 or visit

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