Harry Nakamoto

Nakamoto states, “In the latter part of my first career, that of an Air Force pilot, I enrolled at San Jose State University to take preparatory classes for a graduate studies program in biochemistry. At a point when the science class schedule conflicted with my personal one, my wife Florence, a collector of Japanese folk pottery, suggested a ceramics class as a fill-in so I could make flower vases for her Ikebana. Following that semester, and each thereafter, a ceramics class was on my registration list before I added others. My first task in grad school was to transfer from Science to the Art Department. I was hooked.

I received my masters in ceramic art in June of 1978 and we moved to Columbia the following year where we currently reside. In the early eighties, I taught ceramic art at California State University Stanislaus as an Assistant Professor, and also began teaching ceramics at Columbia Community College as an adjunct instructor. Some other activities, current and past, include emeritus member of the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California; about a ten year summer stint of demonstrating raku at the California State Fair in Sacramento, and a like-time participating in the Rosen wholesale shows on the East Coast and filling orders for shipments of pots across the country.

I am as interested in the ceramic process as I am with the products I create. Most of my current works are fired using one of three processes adapted from historic and prehistoric times. Raku, for example, was first used in sixteenth century Japan to fire tea ceremony vessels. The anagama (cave kiln) was replaced about three hundred years ago by newer designs, but was revived very early in the twentieth century and is today in global use. Perhaps the double chambered cave kiln I saw when I visited a Chinese excavation site of a village from 3000-6000 BC, was an early seed of the anagama. The root of my burnished pots comes from the several workshops I attended that were conducted by southwestern pueblo potters.

“My fascination and exploration continues.”

Harry is one of the featured “100” in a newly released book “Wood-Fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artists” by Amedeo Salamoni. The members of the group are international in origin but mostly Americans and each selectee is allotted two pages in the book for a statement, three pictures of work and some around-the-kiln shots. A very well done book.