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Artist and teacher famed for her work in ceramics


Renowned ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu was passionate about her craft and devoted to teaching.

For about 25 years she taught ceramics at Princeton University, retiring in the early 1990s.

Former Princeton ceramics student Kaili Chun said Takaezu inspired many to pursue careers as artists.

"Her artwork was extremely beautiful," she added. "Not only the form of her vessels, but the glazing and the way she applied the glazing."

Takaezu died early Wednesday at the Convalescent Center of Honolulu. She was 88.

Born in Pepeekeo on the Big Island, Takaezu fashioned an interest in pottery when she worked with the Hawaii Potters Guild on Oahu. She attended ceramic classes under Claude Horan at the University of Hawaii at Manoa before she headed to Michigan to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Later, she taught at Cleveland Institute of Art for several years before moving to Clinton, N.J., and then to Quakertown, N.J., where she had a studio. She also taught at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Apprentices, most of whom came from Skidmore, would spend a year at a time with her.

Takaezu was known for the closed form of her ceramics and for her special glazes, Chun said.

The colors that came through in her artwork evoked aspects of Hawaii and its natural environment, such as the varying colors of the ocean from turquoise to deep blue, Chun said.

Her ceramics are displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and other major museums across the country. During the early 1990s, exhibitions of her artwork were held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Contemporary Museum. The Academy of Arts has 27 pieces of her work, most of them ceramics.

Takaezu has won honors from many organizations and institutions, including an honorary doctorate from Princeton and the Living Treasure Award from the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.

Takaezu is survived by two brothers and four sisters. Services are pending.

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