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South Dakota Art Museum Hosts Japanese Ceramics Exhibit

Gallery photo of Nature, Tradition, and Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection exhibition
Nature, Tradition, and Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection exhibition. Foreground: Yohei Konishi, "Large Vase," ca. 1990, Glazed Stoneware | Tokoname ware. Collection of Gordon Brodfuehrer.

The South Dakota Art Museum announced Nature, Tradition, and Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection, an engaging interdisciplinary look at contemporary Japanese ceramics paired with nature photographs. This exhibition opened Friday and will be on view through Oct. 21 with a public reception scheduled Aug. 30 from 5-7 p.m.

Christine Knoke of the Mingei International Museum is the exhibit’s curator. International Arts & Artists of Washington, D.C. organized the exhibit for tour. Jodi Lundgren, South Dakota Art Museum curator of exhibitions, sees this exhibit as an opportunity to display a rich variety of ceramics styles and techniques for museum visitors and students.

“Japanese ceramicists are so clearly inspired by nature,” Lundgren said, “and the works in this exhibition are exquisite. The Japanese mingei (folk art) tradition of ceramics was a major influence on American ceramicists in the studio pottery tradition. We look forward to the South Dakota State University students and other fine arts programs exploring and drawing inspiration from these works. We also know that visitors with or without a deep ceramics background will experience those ‘wow’ moments that we always hope to achieve with our exhibitions.”

Featuring 43 exceptional Japanese ceramists, this exhibition showcases ceramic objects of exceptional beauty made for everyday use. The 55 ceramic works chosen are closely associated with Japan’s historical pottery centers, and reinterpret traditional methods in a modern context. The almost spiritual link between ceramic making and nature is poetically highlighted by 11 digital photographs taken by photographer Taijiro Ito.

The exhibition provides a dynamic survey of the diverse and innovative practices of ceramic-making in Japan—from exquisite flower vases and serene tea bowls to robust platters—revealing the earthly beauty of Japanese ceramics. This admiration for rugged-looking stonewares derives in part from the aesthetic of wabi—a cultivated simplicity and rusticity—which has been highly valued from the 15th century onward. It also derives from the Japanese deep-rooted love of nature and reverence of the kami—higher beings, or spirits, that inhabit it.

For centuries, Japan’s potters have used the natural elements of earth, water and fire to create vessels that evoke nature, taking inspiration from the moss coating on a stone statue of a Buddha, the stain on an ancient rock or the bark of a majestic cryptomeria tree. Many of their forms and glazed finishes harmonize with these natural tones and textures and are often believed to be created by the kami themselves during the firing of the kiln.

The artists in this exhibition have been profoundly inspired by the natural world. Many have created works associated with some of Japan’s most ancient kilns, established 1,000 years ago. These are the Rokkoyo or “Six Old Kilns” of Bizen, Echizen, Shigaraki, Seto, Tamba and Tokoname. Ceramics from these old kilns have such distinctive styles—such as the smooth, unglazed Bizen wares and the rugged, feldspar-encrusted Shigaraki wares—that the styles of wares are named after these regional kilns. For nearly a millennium, the Rokkoyo have been producing functional stoneware vessels for daily use and for 400 years also made wares for the tea ceremony.

Nature, Tradition & Innovation: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection was developed by Mingei International Museum, San Diego, tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

About South Dakota Art Museum

South Dakota Art Museum is located at 1036 Medary Avenue in Brookings and is open daily. Admission to the museum is free. Parking is also free in the museum’s reserved lot just west of the museum on Harvey Dunn Street. For more information call (605) 688-5423, email or visit

About the Curator and Tour Organizer

Christine Knoke joined Mingei International Museum in June 2010, after nearly 15 years at the prestigious Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California, where she oversaw the Asian art collection and organized exhibition-related special events. A Los Angeles native, she holds a B.A. in art history from UCLA and an M.A. in art history and Museum Studies from USC. As director of exhibitions and chief curator at Mingei International Museum, Knoke oversees the exhibition, registration and education departments. A seasoned professional, she brings enthusiasm and dedication to the museum's robust exhibition and educational offerings. 

International Arts & Artists in Washington, D.C. is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs and services to artists, art institutions and the public. Visit

Media Contacts:

South Dakota Art Museum: Jodi Lundgren, Exhibitions Curator, (605) 688-4283,

International Arts & Artists: Eileen Streeter, (202) 338-0680,