Joan Takayama-Ogawa: Ceramic Beacon

The survey is the first significant survey of work by this third-generation ceramic artist. 

Celebrated artist and ceramicist Joan Takayama-Ogawa, who teaches across several programs at Otis College, including Creative Action, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Extension, is the subject of a retrospective show at Craft in America, Joan Takayama-Ogawa: Ceramic Beacon, which opened on Saturday, September 17. 

The learning and art space located near the Beverly Center in Los Angeles hosted an opening day reception for the exhibition that included a meet-and-greet with Joan. 

Of the exhibition, Craft in America writes:

Artwork by Joan Takayama-Ogawa“Known for conveying her candid and prophetic take on contemporary life through playful and witty narratives in ceramics, the exhibition will include roughly 30 sculptures made over three decades. Ceramic Beacon will be the first significant survey of this respected Pasadena born and based artist’s work thus far. 

Unequivocally tackling issues ranging from the housing crisis and global overfishing, to the pandemic, Internment camps, and human-induced species loss, Takayama-Ogawa makes objects that embody her world view and life experience. She draws the viewer into her intricate sculptures and initiates a conversation because they are a pleasure to behold. She tackles the core issues that define our contemporary society, from the political, to the historical, social, and environmental. Channeling fury into artistic power, she creates works that respond to the most pressing demands of the 21st century.”

For more than a decade, Joan has coordinated Otis’s ceramics program, which blends BFA, MFA, and Extension students. She often has taught an advanced course in collaboration with Craft in America, and also has taught a course with Jo Lauria (’90 MFA Fine Arts), who is the catalog writer of Ceramic Beacon. Several of Joan’s former students have won prestigious awards, including Windgate-Lamar Fellowships and a Jeanne Ward Foundation Scholarship. She has been the recipient of Otis’s Teacher of the Year Award, and gave the College’s Commencement address in 2004. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the de Young Museum, and she has shown in several solo and group shows at Craft in America, American Museum of Ceramic Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, and Vincent Price Museum, among others. 

Artwork by Joan Takayama-OgawaJoan’s lineage spans centuries of working in clay—her family has been creating ceramics in the ancient kiln city of Tokoname, Japan since the 15th century—and her father studied ceramics with Glen Lukens while enrolled in USC’s School of Architecture. 

“Inheriting artistic ceramic DNA from my parents, clay picked me,” she says. “During the preparation for this survey, I have thought a lot about my parents, and the rich artistic educational environment they provided. Many times, when I finish a major piece, I wonder who made that piece, knowing it comes from my ancestors and not from myself.”

Craft in America is at 8415 W. Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90048, and is open Tuesday–Saturday from noon–6:00 p.m. More information about Joan Takayama-Ogawa: Ceramic Beacon can be found here. You can also visit Joan’s website at

Main image: Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Madhatter's Teapot, 1996, photo by Madison Metro. From top: Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Cranes Covered Container, 1998, photo by Madison Metro; Joan Takayama-Ogawa, Miso Deflated, 2009, photo courtesy of Joan Takagama-Ogawa.