Shio Kusaka (b.1972, Morioka, Japan) is a Los Angeles-based artist practicing in the ceramic medium. Kusaka grew up attending her grandmother’s tea ceremonies in Japan, in which she learned to observe vessels closely. After receiving her BFA from the University of Washington, Seattle, she moved to Los Angeles in 2003 and focused on clay specifically. Kusaka merges drawing and sculpture, typically moving between abstraction and representation. She has developed a distinct formal language in her use of shape, pattern, color, and glazing techniques that make reference to the Yayoi period Japanese pottery, the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, and the wall drawings of Sol LeWitt alike. As Roberta Smith stated in the New York Times, “if the Minimalist painter Agnes Martin had been a potter, she might have made vessels like these.” From grids, dots, and line patterns to the more playful strawberry, watermelon, and dinosaur vessels, Kusaka always shows her hand in the construction of the works.
In 2021, Kusaka was awarded the Isamu Noguchi Award alongside Toshiko Mori. In 2020, the historic Neutra VDL Studio and Residences in Los Angeles, CA held a solo exhibition of Kusaka’s work, curated by Douglas Fogle and Hanneke Skerath. Kusaka’s work has also been featured in significant group exhibitions, including Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019–2022); Shio Kusaka & Jonas Wood, Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, Netherlands (2017); Recent Acquisitions in Asian Art, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH (2017); Going Public: The Napoleone Collection – International Art Collectors in Sheffield, Graves Gallery, Sheffield, UK (2016), traveled to Touchstones Rochdale Museum, Rochdale, UK; and the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, among others. Kusaka’s work is held in public collections worldwide, including the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, OH; The Broad Art Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar, The Netherlands; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
Shio Kusaka: Neutra VDL