Ceramic artist Keiko Fukazawa grew up in Japan and has lived in America for the last 30 years, but she takes her inspiration from China.
She spent three years in Jingdezhen, known as a capital of porcelain thanks to a 1,700-year history of producing pottery. Now she's showing the fruits of her time there in her first solo exhibition, "Made in China," opening Jan. 24 at the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.
Her whimsical work is modern even though it riffs on traditional Chinese symbols and customs. As an outsider, Fukazawa says, she has seen the twin fevers of commercialism and consumerism grip the formerly insulated country.
In other words, Fukazawa says, what was once red has turned to gold, as in bling. Her work vividly depicts this marked transition through a playful row of traditional pots that morph in color from the former to the latter and in a bust of Chairman Mao covered in flowers.
"It was the same thing in Japan 30 years ago," Fukazawa says. "My generation of younger girls wanted to have luxury goods. But now I'm older and I can see, so I'm making my own comment on what's going on."
During her stays in Jingdezhen, Fukazawa was invited into Chinese homes and learned how life has changed in recent decades. She created the works for her CAFAM show in collaboration with local artisans, and that resulted in a fine sampling of the city's processes and materials.
"In Los Angeles there are only two clay shops," Fukazawa says. "But in Jingdezhen there is a row of glaze shops. Glaze shop after glaze shop after glaze shop. It's heaven for ceramic artists."