Ono Hakuko, 1915-1996
Shape of the Stars (Platinum Yūri-kinsai Vessel),  1982
Porcelain, platinum leaf, glaze
Gift of Tom M. Aoyama, owner of Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo
Photograph by Robert Lorenzson, New York

TOUCH FIRE is composed of 94 vibrant and dynamic ceramic sculptures by 21 leading contemporary Japanese women artists working within and transforming a medium traditionally associated with men. Although women have played a central role in ceramic production in Japan for centuries, they have worked as studio ceramic artists only since the 1950s. Rather than training in the traditionally male-dominated apprentice system, most attended art school, where they were exposed to and influenced by a wide range of contemporary artistic movements in both Japan and the West.

Works in the exhibition are lent by an alumna of Smith College who is one of the pioneer collectors of contemporary Japanese ceramics in the West. The accompanying catalogue, with an essay by ceramics specialist Todate Kazuko, Chief Curator at the Tsukuba Art Museum (Ibaraki, Japan) and artists’ biographies by Wahei Aoyama, provides the first in-depth study of the phenomenal rise of women ceramic artists in Japan.