Munemitsu Taguchi

Munemitsu Taguchi is featured as one of our March Artists of the Month. For this show, on view March 1 - April 1, Taguchi sent in all new work and asked that we send his old work back. I spoke with him about his new line of work.

NCC: What do you think are the biggest markers of this transition--new forms, new glazes, new markets?
MT: All of the above. I am making all new forms focusing on expanding volumes, with three colors instead of one and looking for new markets and venues to get the work out, but the biggest of these would be the forms.

NCC: What do you mean by expanding volume?
MT: The old body of work dealt with the formal principle of compressed volume, external forces compressing the form. The new body of work was a natural response, allowing the volumes to expand, to breath. I am trying to reduce the formal elements of the object to curve and line.

NCC: What were you looking to evolve, and what where you looking to leave behind?
MT: I still love the pots I was making before, but I feel it’s important to move on. 10,000 hours to master anything right? Well, I’d been making that work for five years and it had stopped progressing. For me, it was easier to make a big change rather than an incremental one.

NCC: The forms may be a big change, but those celadons are pretty incremental! Did you try more color and then come back to "barely there"? 
The glaze palette is purposefully muted, partially to not conflict with the food or flowers, but also because I like these colors. They all use the same base glaze, in the same [cone 10 reduction] atmosphere, so as to keep the same color family. They all use small percentages of oxides for colorant but it’s true, the degrees of separation are incremental. The biggest change in my surface is the use of three colors.

NCC: Do you think it is possible to reduce the lines and curves of the pots so much that they are too clean? Is it possible to reduce pots so much they lack voice or authorship?
MT: I have always been attracted to minimal form. I think that it is possible to oversimplify, but I try to keep the lines and curves so precise that they read as clean, not oversimplified. When the form is reduced, it ups the stakes because there is nowhere to hide, so it has to be right, every time.

NCC: What did you try out in this process that didn't work?
MT: I made a lot of bad pots in this trial period. I played with form and proportion, different types of objects, went through a lot of trial and error.

NCC: What has been your process for developing, testing, and revealing this new line?
MT: The roll out of this work has been methodical and pre-planned. I was testing glazes and new forms while fulfilling my obligations with my old work for most of last year. In June, I released the work to one venue to test the market and get some feedback, which was overwhelmingly good. I unveiled it in mass this fall at a big craft show and am now switching out all of the work at my galleries.

NCC: What about that business research and development do you think is important for other artists to pay close attention to?
MT: I would recommend other artists not be afraid of change. I knew in the fall of 2010 that I wanted to start a new line of work. I took my time and finally, 18 months later, have made a full switch. I needed to have this transition happening in my studio to keep me engaged.

NCC: How do you think your current audience will receive the new work? Who do you imagine might be a new audience for this work?
MT: I think that this work will appeal to a broader audience than my last line. I love food; I love to eat my wife's food and one of my goals in making dinnerware is to make pots that don’t get in the way. Simple palette, with simple yet considered forms, so the food doesn’t have to compete with the pot.

NCC: What kind of food does your wife make?
MT: We are pretty into the farm-to-table thing; we have a share in a local CSA and do what we can to accentuate the produce. We usually make Asian and contemporary American food.

NCC: How do you make sure the pots don't “get in the way" of the food or presentation of food?
MT: The idea of not getting in the way is both physical and visual. By dealing with line and curve, the pot can be described fully without getting in the way visually. Physically, polished bottoms keep tables from being scratched. Aside from the aesthetic reasons, vitreous porcelain is wonderful for utilitarian reasons, microwave and dishwasher safe, not impeding utility.

NCC: How do you reach your audiences?
MT: By sending my work to NCC!