Celebrating Water, San Francisco State University
photographs by Brian Mahany
David Kuraoka, ceramics professor at SFSU, recently installed a magnificent sculpture, called Celebrating Water, in an on-campus plaza at San Francisco State University. Celebrating Water is a solar-powered fountain that uses collected rain water. It consists of 24 enormous stacked clay rings that were extruded in an industrial factory in Phoenix, Arizona. After cleaning and smoothing each ring, David carefully paints the segments with colorful under glazes and then covers them in a clear glaze.
About David Kuraoka:"Hawaii-born David Kuraoka is a professor of art at San Francisco State University. He returns for several months each year to his island home, where he has been named a State Living Treasure... Kuraoka is best known for his pit-fired forms in which the clay body becomes a three-dimensional canvas for an extraordinary and subtle palette of hues...A group of large wheel-formed porcelain vessels with celadon glaze pays homage to Asian tradition. Their simplicity and elegance, the subtle variations of symmetric contour, the soft crackle in the ocean-cool transparent layers of color belies inherent technical challenges. In contrast, the pit-fired forms speak of ways in which the artist has created significant variations on classic process, working with a freer hand. Though begun on the wheel, they are further shaped by hand.
Kuraoka frequently works with large, pit-fired tiles grouped in wall-mounted sections. The artist has been able to guide but not dominate the serendipitous effects of chance, creating distinctive gestural marks with the calligraphy of smoke and fire. Other tiles are used to create multi-sectioned works, glazed in interlocking stripes that provide a dynamic contrast to the rich but muted hues of the pit fired works.
Kuraoka also works in bronze, using clay works from which to create molds for casting. Patination of the metal surface becomes the equivalent of the colors which bloom on the clay during pit firing. The bronze forms are darker in coloration, but their resemblance to their kin in clay is uncanny – an inspired and boldly playful move by an artist wonderfully in tune with his materials."
We are very fortunate to have several pieces by David Kuraoka in the gallery currently. We have just received three celadon pieces, a pit-fired mango, a blue and red mango and a bronze casting in addition to the large vessels and wall tiles featured here.
Want to learn more? Here is a SPARK segement featuring Kuraoka on KQED.
Please join us in Fort Mason during the upcoming Ceramics Annual of America, October 7 - 9. We welcome you to visit the gallery to view additional works by David Kuraoka.