Sunday, May 24, 2009

How different are we? I was reading an interesting book recently called The Overspent American by Juliet Schor. She talks about the "new differentiation" of consumer items and the irony that products out there tend to be more common than diverse. And, that although we often use consumption to differentiate ourselves, and be unique, she argues, we "all end up looking more or less predictably the same." So, how different are we from the next person who buys a pink one rather than a blue one?

Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

Monday, May 18, 2009

Back in March when I was in Japan, I went to Shigaraki to visit the Ceramic Cultural Park. I took about 5 different trains from Nara to get there. It's located in an isolated area that is definitely off the beaten path.

The town of Shigaraki itself is a ceramic town with countless
studios, kilns, galleries and shops. Ceramics were everywhere!!

I headed straight to the Ceramic Cultural Park, and visited the museum, exhibition hall and the institute.

They took me on a tour of their impressive artist-in-residence facilities and kilns. A few years back they discovered an old climbing kiln and were just in the process of test-firing it, in collaboration with some ceramic artists in Japan.

Shigaraki is well-known for production of "tanuki" figures. They are a kind of racoon/badger that often appears in Japanese folklore as transformative beings. These little (and gigantic) figures were absolutely everywhere! Is this where my obsession comes from? Hmmmm....