Acclaimed Japanese ceramic artist comes to WCC

Masaya Iizuka demonstrates his skills – Itzel Contreras Mendez
Masaya Iizuka demonstrates his skills – Itzel Contreras Mendez

On March 18 and 19, renowned Japanese potter and ceramic artist Masaya (Jack) Iizuka visited WCC for a special ceramics demonstration.

Well-known for his use of the sgraffito technique in which intricate designs are etched and carved into ceramic surfaces, Iizuka shared his work with an audience of 40 during the two-day visit.

The seed for the event was planted a year and a half ago when Iizuka and WCC ceramics professor Paul Nash first met through a colleague.

Iizuka, who has family on O‘ahu and often visits, had heard of WCC’s ceramics studio, which Nash had designed and established in the 1990s.

During his trips to Hawai‘i, he would stop by and work on pottery in the WCC studio.

He suggested the idea of doing a demonstration, and Nash immediately agreed to the idea.

“You know we can give you a stipend,” Nash said to Iizuka. “He (Iizuka) said no I donʻt want any money from the club or anything. I just want to help out, show my talent, give them ideas.”

During his demonstration to the students, Iizuka explained his philosophy of teaching.

“I really encourage, you know … I never discourage them. I donʻt say if your work not good or you are painting bad or something like that,” he said. “Some Japanese potters are really strict, they never never give them a good voice (advice).”

Born in Ichihara City in Japan, Iizuka graduated from Loma Linda University with his bachelor of art in 1981 and his master in ceramics from California State University Long Beach in 1981.

by Itzel Contreras Mendez, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter