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Archive for Sunday, October 28, 2001

Husband, wife mold clay into functional, abstract works

October 28, 2001

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Yoshiro and Ester Ikeda may share a love of working with clay, but the Manhattan husband-and-wife artists take different paths when it comes to artistic style.

Their works will be on display during the First Friday Gallery Walk, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, at Silver Works and More, 715 Mass. Works by Inge Balch, an art professor at Baker University in Baldwin, also will be shown.

Yoshiro, a professor in the ceramics department at Kansas State University, creates large, hand-built teapots and nonfunctional vessels. Some of his pots are more than 2 feet tall.

Most recently, he has been making pots with somewhat flattened walls.

"I'm making scenes of Kansas," he said, explaining how the pots' flatness corresponds to the state's linear landscape.

Using layers of glazes, Yoshiro connects his pots to his homeland of Japan and to his current home in Kansas: Square patterns represent a Zen garden and red squares symbolize the prairie fires in the Flint Hills.

The Ikedas love to travel and have spent time in Scotland, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and along the Amazon River.

"One pot was influenced by the cactus of Arizona," he said. "A week ago, I started a new series about forests and mountains."

Unlike the somewhat abstract works of her husband, Ester creates functional porcelain works, such as cups, saucers, small teapots, sugar bowls and creamers, which are decorated with geometric designs.

She uses a potter's wheel to build the cups and bowls, and relies on the slab technique for plates and saucers. She often adds a bit of humor to her designs: Many of her teapots have two spouts so they can be used by ambidextrous people. Others are decorated with large polka dots.

Instead of the vivid colors selected by her husband, Ester prefers to use black and white glazes on her porcelain pieces because it enhances the softness of the clay.

"I want (the buyer) to have an intimacy with the piece and I want them to use it," Ester said. "I want them to look at (the works) and be happy."

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