Richard Fairbanks' and Takeshi Yasuda's Ceramics

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Richard Fairbanks' and Takeshi Yasuda's Ceramics

Richard Fairbanks, although many times overlooked, was an important American ceramist. He was known as a "loner" and because of this he was never really appreciated for his talent. Fairbanks was greatly influence by his professors. Professor Paul Bonifas, who taught at the University of Washington, was one who left a huge impact on Fairbanks work. Fairbanks created a system of sketching pottery profiles, which stemmed from Bonifas’ teachings, as a mean of "thinking on paper." This approach to pottery through sketching was a crucial element that separated Fairbanks from many other Asian-inspired American peers. Although, Fairbanks was a wheel thrown expert, he continued to "think on paper" throughout his creative life.

Much of what absorbs Fairbanks interests can be seen in his making of candlesticks, casseroles, and vases. During the later part of his life he created three of his final pieces. One being the Stoneware Heart Plate, 1985, secondly the Stoneware server, 1985, and thirdly the Stoneware Vase, 1985. These were three of Fairbanks last works, which suggest the direction in which he was headed, in terms of what defined his style, before he became deathly ill.

The plate, which is an exploration of decoration, is liquid clay or "slip pattern" of concentric circles around a valentine heart. This plate was wheel thrown, and glazed with iron oxide and copper red washes. I find it very interesting because it seems to portray more emotion than most of his other pieces. This can probably be indirectly associated with Fairbanks illness and how he was feeling at the time.

The next piece he made during his period of illness was called the "Stoneware Server." The server can be explained by "unadorned simplicity." It also takes on some style of the art deco period. Fairbanks decided that for the server, he would decorate a new style of handles. The thrown thread-spool shape. Many people explained this server as a "model of modernist formal unity." The server is covered with red matte glaze. I became attracted to this piece because of its simplicity. It creates room for interpretation, which I find culminating.

His last and final piece, which is very interesting, is called the "Stoneware Vase*" It has two curled spiral handles, suggestive of ancient or pre-historic civilizat...

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...s Platter is made from Creamware, which was an invention of 18th century Staffordshire. Creamware was what eventually replaced the popular thin glazed products. Yasuda gave a new name to creamware. He was impressed with its "optimistic and visually liberating appearance."

Though not strongly shown in the pieces above, Yasuda's ability to control and rescue a form before a complete collapse takes place amazes me. His interest in gravity and directional pull played a huge role in Yasuda’s style.

I feel strongly that Yasuda’s success comes from his love of exploration, especially of the unknown. By challenging the "normal" his pots engage and provoke his audience.

Richard Fairbanks and Takeshi Yasuda are very different in nature, but I find each of their works visually and aesthetically compelling. Difference creates questions, which creates interests, which creates answers. I feel both of these men treasured simplicity in its realist form! Fairbanks and Takeshi both explored the "unknown" to create identity for themselves. The creativity, ingeniousness, and capacity of knowledge that these men display helps identify who they are and what they stand for as artists.

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