Maybe it is because he lives life on the edge, but Kazu Oba has a thing about rims. This potter-cum-sculptor-cum-dancer-cum-cook-cum-guerilla pot thrower confesses that the most difficult aspect of creating pots is the making of their rims. Indeed, the exquisite and alluring rims are the hallmarks of this potter’s vessels.
Kazu’s life on the razor’s edge began when he was just 17 years old when the lifelong Kobe resident was inspired to travel on his own and live in the U.S. after watching the American movie “Grease”.
An aspiring artist, Kazu studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder and had the opportunity to apprentice under Jerry Wingren, a sculptor in wood and stone who is based in Boulder.
Another key influence for Kazu has been his nearly 15 years working as a restaurant cook to support his livelihood as a student and apprentice. Kazu started paying attention to the vessels on which the food was served while working, and that was why he decided to became a potter.
After completing his apprenticeship with Jerry, Kazu traveled back to Japan to study under Nakazato Takashi, the master potter from Karatsu, Japan, whom he had met at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado. Kazu returned to Colorado in 2004 and eventually started his own studio creating ceramics and sculptures.
To ensure that he retains his creative edginess, Kazu occasionally takes his craft to the street as a ‘guerrilla pot thrower’ and makes pots on a portable kick wheel. The primary purpose of Kazu’s street pot theater is to advertise for his solo shows, which has taken place in numerous cities. “I want to show people how I make pots and, also get out of my comfort zone to test myself,” Kazu says.
While Kazu is a bold adventurer, his artistic creations appear quiet and modest at first glance. But as soon as they are used, you will quickly recognize that they are carefully crafted to enhance the food that is placed in them. His pots are modern and clean, with beguiling rims. “I think all the world of lips”, Kazu explains.
As a cook, Kazu makes wares that he wants to use on his dining table, and so he ponders most about his work when he eats. For example, he uses a variety of clay and glazes so that the table has a mixture of colors and textures instead of looking all dark or light. Whether it is the sharp attention to the textures of colors that becomes background to food, or perfectly executed rims that frame it, this unique perspective of an experienced cook makes Kazu’s work truly exceptional.
When I look at Kazu’s work, I cannot stop thinking about the things I will eat out of them. It maybe vivid green blanched vegetables on dark clay, or some bright coulis for that meat on porcelain. I am sure that the cook inside you will be intrigued too.