Humans have a long history of utilizing art to create a distinct universe of their own. At least, that’s how local clay sculptor Hiroshi Sueyoshi describes his own 40-year experience. Sueyoshi’s most recent works are currently on display at Cameron Art Museum in an exhibit called “Matter of Reverence.” The exhibit will be on display through April 15, and Sueyoshi will give a talk about his art’s evolution at the museum on Sunday, December 14 as part of their educational outreach programming.
The visionary first discovered clay art when he visited Mashiko, a small pottery town in Japan that was near his hometown of Tokyo. He immediately found a fondness for the medium. Sueyoshi honed his abilities at Tokyo Aeronautical College and Ochanomizu Design Academy before apprenticing for potters Daisei-Gama and Masanao Narui.
“My first creations were 500 saucers that I was assigned to make for practice,” Sueyoshi recalls. “I used a kick wheel and local clay. I still consider myself more of a potter than a sculptor, though I make functional pottery into sculptural forms.”
Early works he created in Japan took on a more practical approach, but he began to branch out once he moved to the U.S. in 1971. He settled down in Asheboro and helped build Humble Mill Pottery. In 1973 he moved to Warrenton, VA, where he continued studying his discipline with Teruo Hara of the Kobo Group. Sueyoshi made his way to Wilmington in 1978, where he became resident artist at Cape Fear Community College. Currently, he is the artist in residence at the Cameron Art Museum.
Sueyoshi’s works in Matter of Reverence draw heavily from his artistic muses, Hamada Shoji, Isamu Noguchi, Teruo Hara, Ruth Duckworth, and Peter Voulkos. His pottery showcases careful precision, ranging from symmetrical, smooth vases, to deliberately skewed creations. Known for a muted color palette, even brighter colored works have a soft visual appeal. A sense of serenity overcomes viewers, as nothing is overstated in his pottery.
Matter of Reverence features two installation pieces. “Rock Garden” recreates Sueyoshi’s version of a Japanese rock garden or meditation room. “Empty Bowls” comprises a plethora of small bowls that fit into a full-size room.
Sueyoshi has expanded his abilites over the past six months by delving into “coil building,” a process that relies more on the artist’s hand rather than a mold or potter’s wheel. Artists who use the method start with a base and stack long coils of clay on top of it. Eventually, an object takes form. Some of his experimentation with the sculpting method can be seen in Matter of Reverence. Ultimately, the show embodies a retorspective of his expansive career and philosophy.
“I think coming from very functional pottery-making in Japan to more sculptural oriented clay work here in the U.S. made me explore the relationship between craft and art,” Sueyoshi comments.
He will give an intimate talk on his work in conjunction with Matter of Reverence in the Brown Wing of CAM. The discussion will shed light on his inspirations.
“I will talk about my journey with clay,” Sueyoshi tells. “I am not exactly academically trained, so rather than giving a lecture I would like to create an atmosphere of a studio discussion.”
Matter of Reverence
Pottery by Hiroshi Sueyoshi
Cameron Art Museum
3201 S 17th St.
On display through April 12
Sunday, December 14, 3 p.m.