Columbus is home to a thriving cultural community that continues to grow and flourish every year. Artists make up a vital asset to the artistic landscape of our city, and it is our pleasure to introduce many of them through our series called The Collective.
Yuichiro Komatsu is a ceramist and professor of art at Columbus State University's RiverPark Campus A native of Tokyo, Japan, Komatsu has lived all over the world before coming to Columbus to teach and reflect on his work as an artist.
This week, Komatsu will become the first CSU faculty member to be featured in a new series of events called "Circle of Friends." The new series is sponsored by CSU's Friends of Art, and will highlight individual faculty members and their work. Each event will be hosted by a different faculty member who will share their work, present a brief artist's talk, and give a tour of their studio.
The intention behind "Circle of Friends" is to provide an opportunity for local art supporters to have the chance to get to know the incredible faculty artists that call Columbus State University home.
We corresponded with Komatsu to learn more about his background, his artistic process, and why the way that being an artist in our community informs his work.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
All images included are courtesy of Yuichiro Komatsu and Columbus State University.
Q: How did you settle on ceramics as your specialty?
A: By coincidence, really. I was once an aspiring chef at a Japanese restaurant in New York. Through handling a variety of ceramic wares, I got interested in making pottery and this was how I got started with clay. Since then, my work gradually has become more sculptural, dealing with space that is more poetic than utilitarian. I like the fact that clay has no fixed sense of scale as one can throw a pot, make an installation work or create an architectural structure. Clay is “malleable” both literally and figuratively.
Q: What has your experience been like working at CSU?
A: I began teaching at CSU in 2009, so it’s been almost a decade. The RiverPark campus and the downtown area have seen tremendous growth during this time. I feel fortunate to be working in a growing art department and community at CSU. I am particularly grateful for the past and ongoing generous support from the Friends of Art, our local, private donor base who fund students’ scholarships and faculty research. Through their support and the University Grants, I have participated in a few artist residency programs in the U.K, Germany, Brazil and Japan, which have been fulfilling and enriching experiences. I have also led a few study abroad programs in Japan where students received the FOA travel scholarships.
Q: Please describe your artistic process. How do you move fluidly between concept to finished piece?
A: During the last 20 years of studio practice, I’ve explored many approaches and methods in the medium of ceramics. To this day, I am still fascinated by the tactile nature of ceramics and process oriented forming methods. Lately, I have been interested in a notion of art making that is reductive and minimal, which reflect the outcome of my work.
Q: What inspired this particular event?
A: I was asked to be the first faculty member in the Department of Art to host this event for the Friends of Art members. I will be giving a tour of the ceramics studio where I teach and my studio where I make my work and presenting a slide talk on my artistic background and recent body of my work. I think it will be a great opportunity for the members to be acquainted with what the students and I do. I am excited to share my experiences as a teacher and an artist with them.
Q: Why do you like being an artist in Columbus, Georgia?
A: Prior to moving to Columbus, I had lived in Tokyo, New York, Berlin, Vancouver among other places. I do like the fact that there is ample space to work freely without the constraints that come with living in a larger metropolitan area. Living in Columbus gives me this opportunity to reflect both on my artistic and personal growth.
Q: How do you find the creative community here informs your work?
A: I think it’s great that the CSU RiverPark campus has become the artistic hub where different disciplines merge. Attending the music concerts and theater performances are enriching experiences that fuel my artistic creativity. I especially enjoy going to the concerts where my mind is momentarily transported. I like the ephemeral nature of music; I think there is something that resonates with my artistic approach. I also feel that there is a growing sense of art community beyond the CSU campus, which is really exciting. ◼︎
Connect with the Artist:
View Komatsu's website.
Read more about him here.
Interested in joining Friends of Art?
Find out how to get involved here.