Project Description

David Kuraoka

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.

Professor of Art, Emeritus, San Francisco State University
Professor of Art, San Francisco State University
Instructor of Art/Ceramics, San Jose City College
PhD Equivalent, San Francisco State University
MA, Art, San Jose State University
BA, Art, San Jose State University
San Jose City College
Industrial Scale/Artistic Precision: David Kuraoka, Honolulu Museum of Art/First Hawaiian Center, HI
David Kuraoka: Clay & Bronze, Gallery ‘Iolani, Windward Community College, Honolulu, Hi
David Kuraoka, New Work, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA
David Kuraoka, Na Pali, 25 Years, Richard A. Kawakami Terminal, Lihue Airport, HI
David Kuraoka, Night Water, Koa Gallery, Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu, HI
David Kuraoka, Raku Mastery, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
David Kuraoka, Crosscurrents, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, HI
David Kuraoka, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HI
David Kuraoka , Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA
David Kuraoka, 425 Market, San Francisco, CA
David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu, HI
David Kuraoka, The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center, Honolulu, HI
David Kuraoka, Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA
David Kuraoka, Schaefer International Gallery, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, HI
David Kuraoka, Honolulu Advertiser Gallery, The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI
Kuraoka: Pitfire and Celadon, Stones Gallery, Kauai, HI
David Kuraoka Porcelain, d.p. Fong Galleries, San Jose CA
Distinguished Artist Forum, San Jose State University, CA
David Kuraoka, Shinno Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
David Kuraoka Ceramics, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, HI
Spotlight Exhibit, Collectors Gallery, Oakland Museum, CA
Kuraoka in ’82, Redding Museum & Art Center, CA
David Kuraoka, Ceramics,Gallery at Waiohai, Kauai, HI
David Kuraoka, Fire Forms, The Following Sea, Honolulu, HI
Clay: David Kuraoka, Meyer Breier Weiss Contemporary Crafts, San Francisco, CA
David Kuraoka, Contemporary Arts Center of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
David Kuraoka, Singing Stone Gallery, Santa Cruz CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Pieces, Kauai Museum, Lihue, Kauai, HI
Kuraoka, Siskiyou Joint Community College, College of the Siskiyou, Weed, CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Forms, Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Pots, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu, HI
Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Pavilion Gallery, Los Gatos, CA
David Kuraoka, Raku Pottery, Daisy’s Gallery, Honolulu, HI
Kuraoka, Sculpture, Cannery Gallery, San Francisco, CA
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

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