A New Exhibition Spotlights Contemporary Female Japanese Artists


blue and grey ceramic sculpture by a Japanese artist

Photo: Yamaguchi Mio. Shura, 2020. Carol & Jeffrey Horvitz Collection of Contemporary Japanese Ceramics.

Historically, Japanese women have made significant yet underappreciated contributions to the male-dominated field of ceramics. “Radical Clay: Contemporary Women Artists from Japan” seeks to give both established and emerging women artists—including Mishima Kimiyo, Tsuboi Asuka, Konno Tomoko and Aoki Katsuyo—their due.

On view at the Art Institute of Chicago through June 3, the exhibition showcases 40 ceramic pieces from the collection of Carol and Jeffrey Horvitz. “This exhibition comes at a pivotal moment when these women are becoming more widely known as groundbreaking contemporary artists,” curator Janice Katz says. “It puts their work in a global context, showcasing their inventiveness in pushing the boundaries of the medium.” While beautiful, Katz describes some of the sculptures as unexpected and even odd. “The works take nature, the body and textiles as their inspiration,” she says. “Many do not look like they are made out of clay at all.”