Meeting Miwa Neishi
How long have you been making ceramics and what brought you to it?
It has been 10 years since I was in college in Niigata (Japan). My sculpture teacher was very supportive of me exploring creating larger objects. After entering grad school in Ohio, the community-oriented environment of ceramic class motivated me to keep working with ceramics and that also encouraged me to join Sculpture Space NYC after moving to NYC by myself.
Who or what inspires you?
Almost anything surrounding my life, I tend to think a lot about human creativity and communication through different media and language; music, poetry, dance, writing, etc. In other words, the need for people to connect to others through expressions inspires me. Especially abstract expressionism speaks to me when I think of the familiarity beyond different cultures.
Noguchi Isamu and Saburo Hasegawa’s exhibitions inspired me deeply to work on my Moji vase series.
You were born and raised in Japan and now live in NYC, do you think this move impacts your work, your approach to clay, to forms, your sense of color?
I think in Japan, my sense was a little more restricted by the expectation of “ceramics as traditional craft”. I felt the pressure of pursuing the perfect form as-artisans-do and I was too afraid to be criticized. After coming to NYC, I felt a lot freer and more relaxed to experiment and conjoin new things. But at the same time, my interest in spreading my culture in memory was raised among this diverse environment.
I aim to sustain the quality and harmony I learned in Japan and also respect the color of natural material. It is experimental but also within the limits of nature.
At Volume Ceramics, we are obsessed with vases... Would you define yourself as a collector? Do you have a collection of objects / artworks? If yes, from which artists?
Starting to become one! During my last visit home in Tokyo, I bought several prints and books of Keisuke Serizawa - a textile-dye artist back in the 50's, along with traditional kites from a Shimane craftsman. Because of working with Moji vases, I have become obsessed with the abstract typography in Japan.
I am growing my collection with old crafts/Mingei and hopefully will one day be living in a home full of them!
Can you share a bit more about your making process? Do you draw before working on clay or is it spontaneous?
Both ways. When I am not in the studio I mostly draw or write to keep ideas floating. It really depends on the condition of the clay too, or the color of clay, to inspire me to create and find its own character. I find some are developed from different shapes into new shapes, transforming to larger forms. The shapes are usually influenced by the mannerism of calligraphy. I tend to work more spontaneously on the glazing process which sometimes brings unexpected results that can be exciting.
Can you tell us a bit more about each piece selected for Volume Ceramics?
- The Sakura – I was testing the pink glaze after I acquired it in the early spring. Going out to watch cherry blossoms is a traditional custom in Japan and I always feel bitter sweet when spring comes and think about those memories with my family.
- Grey Navy Line – This piece emerged from a former vase named “house”, it depicts the line of Japanese roofs that have edges that point outwardly.
- Neon Pot – While I was studying ancient Jomon figurines that looked like a space object, I wanted to create the clay vase that has the features of futuristic lines and colors - like Nike sneakers! I like to work with this playful series in the combination of earth and space.
- Snowy Pot – In this piece my emphasis was on the square opening that reminds me of the window. The rest of the form was built experimentally and so the brushing on the surface followed to create this layered texture.
- Pelvic Vase – A wide and heavy shaped piece. Being a woman is part of being myself and that consciousness seeps into work sometimes. The shape and color were mostly automatically built together without my planning.
What's next for you? What would be your dream project?
I would like to keep making and sustain the environment to create. Maybe teach other people. My dream project is to build a space to remind people of the possibilities of creating/appreciating art in everyday life and to uplift our spirit and society. I wish to connect more people artistically beyond categories of media or material beyond borders.
credits for portraits and studio images = Bryan Anton