I first became acquainted with Etsuko Tashima's work when the traveling show Soaring Voices: Recent Ceramics by Women of Japan came to the Center for Visual Arts in Denver in 2010. I was very pleased to see her work highlighted in the number 92 (June-August 2013) issue of Ceramics Art and Perception. I was really drawn to Tashima's work when I saw it four years ago both for her beautiful, organic forms and for the beautiful interplay between ceramics and glass. The Soaring Voices exhibit highlighted the work of 25 Japanese women, which, of its self is surprising since we normally associate Japanese ceramics with men, and all of the artists in this show had something to say about the identity of a woman.
By choosing the theme of a cornucopia, Tashima announces that she is discussing bounty and fruitfulness, themes that can easily be seen as being feminine. Her sensual, organic forms bring to mind the curves of both plants and the female form. The contrast between the opacity of the clay forms and the translucency of the glass speaks of the hard, shallow part of ourselves that we present to the world versus the delicate, sensitive part of ourselves that we reserve for a select few. Tashima herself says that the ceramic is, by its nature, superficial, while the glass, because of its translucency, draws the eye into the work. This is a question that I myself am struggling with in my own work. The question of how to draw someone into my artwork and to have them feel engaged in the work itself is one that I am still working through, but I think Tashima's response to that question is a very beautiful and elegant one. Her work is certainly something that has kept me intrigued for several years.