Akio Takamori is a Japanese-American ceramic sculptor and is a faculty member at the University of Washington.
Takamori was born in Nobeoka, Miyazaki, Japan in 1950. The son of an obstetrician/gynecologist who ran a clinic, 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 Musashino Art College in 1971, 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 the 1980s, Takamori worked innovatively with the vessel form and its structure, creating flat envelope shaped pots formed from slabs. Once the ceramic piece was finished, he would paint onto the surface adding details of the figures that he was representing. These figures often explored human relationships. His work in this format lasted about ten years.
In the mid-1990s a visit to the European Ceramic Work Center in The Netherlands resulted in a shift from vessels back to an early interest in sculpture and the figure. Takamori created groupings of standing figural sculptures. The figures portray historical characters, contemporary society and rural villagers recalled from the artist's childhood in Japan.
Most of Takamori’s work has been strongly influenced by his Japanese heritage. He has translated traditional Japanese prints into three-dimensional porcelain sculptures, he recreated his hometown in Japan from memory using clay, and he has translated Peter Bruegel’s paintings into sculptures of Japanese people.
Takamori collaborated with Master Printer Mike Sims, of The Lawrence Lithography Workshop, to create a series of prints that combine digital images of his ceramic sculptures with more traditional lithography printing techniques.
2011 United States Artists
2006 Joan Mitchell Foundation
2003 Flintridge Foundation Awards for Visual Artists
2001 Virginia A. Groot Award
1996 Fellowship at Keramisch Werkcentrum, s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
1993 Fellowship at Keramisch Werkcentrum, s’Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
1992 National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant
1988 National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant
1986 National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artists Fellowship Grant
American Craft Museum, New York
Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT
Arizona State University Art Museum, Nelson Fine Arts Center, Tempe
The Arkansas Arts Center Decorative Arts Museum, Little Rock
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton FL
Carnegie Institute Art Museum, Pittsburgh
Hallmark Art Collection, Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Art Institute, MO
Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS
The Kinsey Institute, OH
The Kinsey Institute, Bloomington, IN
Kruithuis Museum, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Museum of Contemporary Ceramic Art, Shigaraki, Japan
The Museum of Ceramic Arts, Alfred, NY
National Museum of History, Taipei, Republic of China
Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Spencer Museum of Art, Laurence, KS
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Republic of China
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2013 Red Star Studios & Belger Arts Center, Kansas City
2004 Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
2003 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
2002 Grover/Thurston Gallery, Seattle
2001 Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica
2000 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1999 Grover/Thurston Gallery, Seattle
1998 Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica, Robert Else Gallery, California State University, Sacramento
1997 Cohen/Berkowitz Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, Trax Gallery, Berkeley, Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1996 Tempe Arts Center, Arizona, Hiestand Galleries/Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
1995 Habitat/Shaw Gallery, Pontiac, Michigan
Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1994 Garth Clark Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1993 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1992 Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Pittsburgh
1991 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1990 Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1989 Garth Clark Gallery, New York, Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York
1988 Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1987 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
1986 Garth Clark Gallery, New York
Esther Saks, Chicago
1985 Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1984 Garth Clark Gallery, New York, The Morgan Gallery, Los Angeles
1983 Garth Clark Gallery, Los Angeles
1980 Himawari Gallery, Miyazaki, Japan
Akio Takamori: Ceramic sculpture, by Akio Takamori, Garth Clark Gallery (2000)
Between Clouds of Memory Akio Takamori, a Mid-career Survey, by Akio Takamori, et al. Univ of Washington Press, Oct 30 2005
500 Figures in Clay: Ceramic Artists Celebrate the Human Form by Veronika Alice Gunter, Sterling Publishing, September 2004, ISBN 978-1-57990-547-7
Figure in Clay: Contemporary Sculpting Techniques by Master Artists, by Suzanne J. Tourtillott, Sterling Publishing, August 2005, ISBN 978-1-57990-611-5
-  Review of career retrospective show
-  Brief biography
-  AskArt page on Takamori
-  ArtNet page on Takamori