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Islands of Clay

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Toshiko Takaezu, 1922–2011

image of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas

Toshiko Takaezu (1922–2011) was an important postwar Asian-American artist from Hawai‘i. My exploration of Takaezu’s work is closely informed by scholarship on hybridity and performative identity, which examines artists with hyphenated identities that bridge multiple personal and cultural formations. Takaezu has occupied an ambiguous and fluid space between cultures, artistic traditions, and assigned gender roles as Asian and American, as potter and sculptor, and as a woman who paid deference to traditional Japanese female culture but was also a pioneer artist who consistently identified with male forms of power. The essential paradoxes of Takaezu’s life and her struggle to find ways to create and perform her ethnicity without becoming trapped within it make her a fascinating case study. Her work reflects the implications of transnational flows and circulations; her clay works speaks to a heritage of migration, dispersal and the need to recapture a sense of lost homeland.

Affiliations: 1: College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, ma, USA,


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14. Winnicott Donald W.The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development. New York: International Universities Press Inc., 1965.

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