Idea of Self Study
My name is Ken Nagakui, originally from Japan. I currently live in Charlottesville, Virginia. I have been focusing on pottery since 2005 after I built my first wood kiln. I had been painting before the pottery. It was English ceramist Jennifer Lee's work (I saw a picture of her superb hand built pieces in a book) that deviated my interest toward ceramic. And, I took pottery classes in 2000 to 2001 for basic knowledge of pottery at Art League School in Alexandria. After taking the classes for about one year I developed my own style mostly through self-study. Although I have never studied pottery in Japan, it seems to be inevitable some reflections of Japanese styles occur in my work. It's not chosen, but something coming out from inside of me; most of the styles I developed are very spontaneous at the beginning. If I can slightly exaggerate, my hands know better than my mind, as if my conscious mind is following what my hands want to make.
My pottery name Karematsu came from a small place adjacent to the land where I was born. It's not even official village name, just a kind of family nick name of a sunny hill side. (Literal meaning of Karematsu is weathered or dried pine.) One of my childhood memory of the place is occasional finding of fragments of prehistoric earthenwares. They are archeologically called Jomon (pronounce joe-mon or joh-mon) because cord pressed marks on the surfaces are the most common characteristic of the wares as seen in the picture. (These are actual pieces I brought from the hill side of Karematsu. Those wares can be 2,000 to 5,000 years old.)
My Interest and Beyond
Although I find those Jomon wares very inspirational, my real interest is not archeological one to recreate the similar wares by using similar methods of pit fire, for example. (I admit that path itself would be very interesting; one time I have joined a pit-firing event and was fascinating.) I'm more interested in imagining those prehistoric people's creative momentum. By knowing it is impossible to fully understand, still I'm trying to envision how its pristine form would be like if it's applied to today's environment of our culture. I want to see renewed forms of their creativeness.
My physical appearance must be more like those of Jomons (perhaps my direct ancestors) than anyone in Charlottesville with my small structure, dark hair (now it's becoming gray) and high cheek bones, etc. I sometimes think I would be happier if I live in the old Jomon era which spans some 11,000 years ago to 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, I was dragged into this modern world where things are changing way too rapidly... However, I have to say it is fortunate because of the modern technology and available information as well as more democratic thinking in the society, we can utilize best of the modern by reflecting our knowledge and imagination to create a completely new form of culture: from power driven society to empathy driven society. In my view empathy is the key to real meaning of freedom, which was miss-applied just after 9-11 and revealed its limits of that miss-applied form of freedom during the financial crisis in 2008. Now we are not even talk about freedom much as if its a shameful desire. Miss-applied freedom is exploitation of power games. Real freedom must be based on empathy. I cannot elaborate in short description here, but I have a strong sense that when we talk about "awe of nature", basic ingredient that must have been the basic tone of the ancient culture and is strangely lacking in the world culture today, takes empathy in human form that is applicable to building a new system of the society. Just try to imagine! (I'm posting some more discussion on this matter: please click here.)
Well, these are my background information and background thoughts, which are coming back again and again.