Yoko Sekino-BovéWashington, Pennsylvania

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Yoko Sekino-Bové was born in Osaka, Japan. She graduated from Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Japan, with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in graphic design and worked as a commercial designer in Japan and the US before her passion for ceramic art took her onto a new path.

She received a Master of Fine Art degree in Ceramics from the University of Oklahoma before moving to Washington, Pennsylvania, and started working from the home studio while teaching at local colleges and art centers. Her porcelain work has been included in prestigious exhibitions nationally and internationally. Yoko’s work was selected as one of the “emerging artists 2011” by the Ceramic Arts Daily Council and included in NCECA Invitational Exhibition, and she presented a solo exhibition at the Red Stars Studios in Missouri, Appalachian Center for Crafts in Tennessee, Charlie Cummings Gallery in Florida, and The Clay Studio in Pennsylvania. Yoko completed the Arts/Industry residency at John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin and served as a fall short residency artist at Archie Bray Foundation in Montana. In March 2018, in conjunction with NCECA Pittsburgh conference, her solo show “Mixed Signals” was presented at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Her work has also been shown in Canada, South Korea, Japan, Latvia, Turkey, Portugal, and Dominican Republic. She participated to Icheon World Ceramic Biennale 2013, in Icheon, South Korea, and served as an artist-in-residence at Cerdeira Village of Art and Craft in Portugal in 2016.

Her ceramic works are featured in “500 cups”, “500 platters and chargers”, “500 teapot volume 2”, “Humor in Craft”, “Surface decoration techniques for potters” and “Cast” as well as other craft books and a variety of periodicals including “American Craft” and “Ceramics Monthly” magazines. Her technical articles were featured on “Ceramics Monthly” and “The Pottery Making Illustrated” magazines.

There is a reward in creating utilitarian ceramic art. It is that my work will become a part of the owner who uses and touches it everyday. My work becomes a part of their identity as well as a part of their life.

In this industrial and technology driven age, the question of why we still create and use hand-made objects over mass-produced, technologically sophisticated merchandise should be investigated and discussed. Although, to me, there are no concrete answers, I believe it is partially a way to establish our identity as an individual and celebrate it. A part of the reason we acquire an original, one-of-a-kind craft object may not only be for the practical use, but also as a vocabulary to describe our individual identity. It is also a tool for our little rituals (also known as a daily routine) that we subconsciously participate in everyday.

My porcelain work represents the integration of my collective emotions, curiosities, insights, and fancies in shapes of plants and animals. Capturing these emotions and translating them into a certain shape is like picking up wild flowers for making a bouquet: a mixture of random choices and selective chaos, inspirations, and the anticipation for something unexpected.

The forms I developed are primarily for practical usage but also to challenge the users to exercise their imagination. Form and the surface design entwine to create a story, yet it is the function that establishes the identity. Function is a great tool to enhance the story/identity I want to deliver, as well as an invitation to everyone to touch and play with the piece. This is a great advantage for me that we can share the excuse of function with the ceramic art to engage in an intimate, long-term relationship through usage.

As a maker, I hope my functional work grows on the users to the level of a reliable companion that provides comfort. I hope that my work offers intimacy, joy, and affection to the owners in their private spaces. My goal in utilitarian ceramics is to create art beyond function, which will live and work with the people.