Project Description

David Kuraoka

Originally from Lihue Kauai, David Kuraoka is an artist and a teacher. He has been actively involved with clay for five decades. Early art influences at San Jose State University immersed him in the minimalist movement that followed abstract expressionism. As a young artist pursuing a bachelor’s degree in fine art, he completed academic and studio requirements for degrees in painting, sculpture and ceramics. He chose to focus his Master of Arts graduate studies in ceramics.

Later, he was awarded a PhD equivalent by San Francisco State University for his research in Americanizing raku, where he made simple, elegant forms that he subjected to raku and primitive open pit firing.

Kuraoka began teaching at SFSU in 1971. He created an intensive, hands-on ceramics program at SFSU, was head of the SFSU Ceramics department from 1982 to 2008 and has been professor emeritus since 2012.

Kuraoka was responsible for creating large, collaborative annual beach festivals that engaged ceramics and glass departments from all over Northern California for 15 years. He helped initiate a related event in Hawaii, where the Raku Ho’olaule’a has attracted artists annually for 40 years. He was honored as a Hawaii Living Treasure in 1987.

During his professional career, he has developed different bodies of work. Among these are wheel-thrown and altered pit-fired forms; vessel-based ceramic and bronze sculpture; wheel-thrown porcelains; wall-mounted, handmade ceramic slabs; and large-scale extruded ceramic columns. In addition, he has created, fabricated and installed three major ceramic public artworks.

Kuraoka’s design philosophy in creating ceramic sculpture recognizes the beauty of natural forms, combined with a visual language that he believes is universal. His work is abstract and he describes his style as “simple, clean and crisp, ‘California Slick’”.
EDUCATION
2012  Professor of Art, Emeritus, San Francisco State University
1971-2014  Professor of Art, San Francisco State University
1971-72  Instructor of Art/Ceramics, San Jose City College
1976  PhD Equivalent, San Francisco State University
1970-71  MA, Art, San Jose State University
1967-70  BA, Art, San Jose State University
1964-67  San Jose City College

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2016  Industrial Scale/Artistic Precision: David Kuraoka, Honolulu Museum of Art/First Hawaiian Center
David Kuraoka: Clay & Bronze, Gallery ‘Iolani, Windward Community College,
2012  David Kuraoka, New Work, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
2011  David Kuraoka, Na Pali, 25 Years, Richard A. Kawakami Terminal, Lihue Airport
2010  David Kuraoka, Night Water, Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu
David Kuraoka, Raku Mastery, Richmond Art Center, Richmond CA
2009  David Kuraoka, Crosscurrents, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
2006  David Kuraoka, Honolulu Academy of Arts
2004  David Kuraoka , Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
David Kuraoka, 425 Market, San Francisco
2003  David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu
2002  David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu
2002  David Kuraoka, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
2001  David Kuraoka, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Hawaii,
1998  David Kuraoka, Honolulu Advertiser Gallery, The Contemporary Museum
1992  Kuraoka: Pitfire and Celadon, Stones Gallery, Kauai
1990  David Kuraoka Porcelain, d.p. Fong Galleries, San Jose CA
1987  Distinguished Artist Forum, San Jose State University, CA
1984  David Kuraoka, Shinno Art Gallery, Los Angeles
1983  David Kuraoka Ceramics, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, HI
1982  Spotlight Exhibit, Collectors Gallery, Oakland Museum, CA
Kuraoka in ’82, Redding Museum & Art Center, CA
David Kuraoka, Ceramics,Gallery at Waiohai, Kauai
1981  David Kuraoka, Fire Forms, The Following Sea, Honolulu
1980  Clay: David Kuraoka, Meyer Breier Weiss Contemporary Crafts,San Francisco
1979  David Kuraoka, Contemporary Arts Center of Hawaii, Honolulu
1978  David Kuraoka, Singing Stone Gallery, Santa Cruz CA
1977  David Kuraoka, Raku Pieces, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
1976  Kuraoka, Siskiyou Joint Community College, College of the Siskiyou,
Weed, CA
Kuraoka, Young Artist, James Willis Gallery, San Francisco
Raku Pots, Kuraoka, College of Cabrillo, Aptos, CA
1975  David Kuraoka,Raku Forms, Richmond Art Center, Richmond CA
1973  David Kuraoka, Raku Pots, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu, HI
1970  Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Pavilion Gallery, Los Gatos, CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu
1968  Kuraoka, Sculpture, Cannery Gallery, San Francisco

SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2016  Industrial Scale/Artistic Precision: David Kuraoka, Honolulu Museum of Art/First Hawaiian Center
David Kuraoka: Clay & Bronze, Gallery ‘Iolani, Windward Community College,
2012  David Kuraoka, New Work, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
2011  David Kuraoka, Na Pali, 25 Years, Richard A. Kawakami Terminal, Lihue Airport
2010  David Kuraoka, Night Water, Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu
David Kuraoka, Raku Mastery, Richmond Art Center, Richmond CA
2009  David Kuraoka, Crosscurrents, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center
2006  David Kuraoka, Honolulu Academy of Arts
2004  David Kuraoka , Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
David Kuraoka, 425 Market, San Francisco
2003  David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu
2002  David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu
2002  David Kuraoka, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle
2001  David Kuraoka, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Hawaii,
1998  David Kuraoka, Honolulu Advertiser Gallery, The Contemporary Museum
1992  Kuraoka: Pitfire and Celadon, Stones Gallery, Kauai
1990  David Kuraoka Porcelain, d.p. Fong Galleries, San Jose CA
1987  Distinguished Artist Forum, San Jose State University, CA
1984  David Kuraoka, Shinno Art Gallery, Los Angeles
1983  David Kuraoka Ceramics, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, HI
1982  Spotlight Exhibit, Collectors Gallery, Oakland Museum, CA
Kuraoka in ’82, Redding Museum & Art Center, CA
David Kuraoka, Ceramics,Gallery at Waiohai, Kauai
1981  David Kuraoka, Fire Forms, The Following Sea, Honolulu
1980  Clay: David Kuraoka, Meyer Breier Weiss Contemporary Crafts,
San Francisco
1979  David Kuraoka, Contemporary Arts Center of Hawaii, Honolulu
1978  David Kuraoka, Singing Stone Gallery, Santa Cruz CA
1977  David Kuraoka, Raku Pieces, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii
1976  Kuraoka, Siskiyou Joint Community College, College of the Siskiyou,
Weed, CA
Kuraoka, Young Artist, James Willis Gallery, San Francisco
Raku Pots, Kuraoka, College of Cabrillo, Aptos, CA
1975  David Kuraoka,Raku Forms, Richmond Art Center, Richmond CA
1973  David Kuraoka, Raku Pots, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu, HI
1970  Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Pavilion Gallery, Los Gatos, CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu
1968  Kuraoka, Sculpture, Cannery Gallery, San Francisco

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Tate Gallery, London, England
Bowdoin College Museum, Brunswick, ME
Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Stanford University Museum of Art, Palo Alto, CA
Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art, South Hadley, MA
The Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
David Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Washington University Gallery of Fine Arts, St. Louis, MO
Krannert Art Museum at University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Huntington Gallery at University of Texas, Austin, TX
Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL
Newport Museum of Art, Newport, RI
Santa Fe Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ
Cedar Sinai Collection, Los Angeles, CA
Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA
Martin Z, Margulies Collection, Miami, FL
Bank of America Collection, NC
Eric Clapton Collection, London, England

 

David Kuraoka is best known for large ceramic pieces that are first thrown on a wheel, then further shaped by hand, burnished, covered with rock salt and copper carbonate, and fired in an open pit. He has long been involved in the process of pit firing, his favorite ceramic technique because of the rich, soft colors that result from the firing. Kuraoka’s experience has taught him how to set up the pit to get certain kinds of effects, but one of the fascinating aspects of the process for him is its serendipity, the unexpected ‘gifts of the fire’ that mark his simple, organic forms with smoky earth tones that evoke the colors of Hawaii’s landscape. 

Kuraoka begins by throwing a rounded vessel, subtly altering it by pressing and shaping. He then turns the form upside down and works freehand to create a new top or cap on which the clay is built up and expressively manipulated. The caps of the completed vessels undulate and swirl, resembling the volcanic topography of Hawaii’s islands. Before the pieces are fired Kuraoka burnishes them, rubbing the surfaces with a stone to create a beautiful sheen that enhances the colors and catches the light. In the firing, Kuraoka places sawdust, rock salt, and copper carbonate on the floor of the pit to get the distinctive reds, browns and blacks in his firings, loads the pieces and then fills the pit with split logs. 

David Kuraoka was born in Lihuʻe, Kauai and received BA and MA degrees from San José State University, and a Doctorate of Art from San Francisco State University. He is retired as professor of art and head of the ceramics department of San Francisco State University, and maintains studios in both San Francisco and Kaua‘i. Named a “Living Treasure of Hawai’i”, Kuraoka helped initiate the popular Raku Ho‘olaule‘a. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including at the Hawai’i State Art Museum, Honolulu; San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum, California; the Rotterdam Modern Museum of Art, the Netherlands; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Japan.

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