Shoji Satake

Artist Statement

As an immigrant, my work embodies my constant struggle to blend my Japanese heritage with my American upbringing. This dichotomy seeks to create a harmonious existence between two distinct forms that can only exist together, a flower-like object and a stone-like base. By interpreting these two unique cultures as a singular object it allows me to ascertain the universal journey of self-discovery.

I am influenced by my natural surroundings and work in ceramics for tactile seduction. In my work, my Japanese heritage hints at the notion of recreating man’s ideals of nature as my Alaskan upbringing reflects the raw natural beauty. I create abstract sculptural landscapes that reflect these two philosophies of nature in the disparate forms, which are dependent on one another for symbiosis. While the floral attributes speaks of the beauty, sexuality, and frailty that is inherent in all living things, the rock bases suggests the foundation and strength we all identify with as a sense of belonging.

The work also depicts a sense of the exotic. The juicy glazes of the floral insets create an impulse for closer inspection. As in nature, a flowers sole purpose is in its sensuality to procreate. These ceramic sculptures express the subtle erotic nature of these obsessions. Compositional appearance suggests landscapes that are reminiscent of ink wash paintings of the Orient. The surface of the base bares the scars of weathering from the atmospheric firings.

My concerns focus on defining the details between form and space within these objects. Positive elements like the flower structure attract our attention yet could not exist without a contrasting background. Together the forms create an understanding of harmony and balance. The notion that even in the tiniest crags in the harshest climates beauty can exist is paramount in my work. To think that even in the most desolate places life will find a way is the metaphor I depict in my work for individuals search to find a place of belonging. Finally, our fantastic world is full of ugly and as well as the beautiful. I prefer to contribute to the latter.

-- Shoji Satake


Shoji Satake, born in Kyoto, Japan and raised in Anchorage, Alaska received his BA in Studio Art and BA in Government from The College of William and Mary in 1996. He received MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington in 2004. Shoji currently resides in Morgantown, West Virginia with his artist wife Jennifer Allen. He is an associate professor and ceramics area head at West Virginia University. Shoji has also taught at Indiana University, Hope College and at Central Michigan University.

Shoji has conducted workshops and exhibited nationally and internationally. Some of his most recent activities include the artist residency at the Archie Bray Foundation, the Robert M. MacNamara Foundation Westport, Maine, Summer Visiting Artist Workshop/lectures at Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute, Guangxi Art Academy in the People’s Republic of China. Recent exhibitions include solo, two-person, and multiple group shows throughout the US and China.

When he is not actively engaged in the classroom or in his studio, he remains busy planning his next ultimate fly-fishing trip in pursuit of the giant trout or salmon or enjoying spending time with his wife, kids, and dogs.