The traditional arts of Japan have always been, I believe, a cerebration of creativity and craftsmanship, a work of beauty the product of this fusion. The requirements to fulfill this goal are met most often by enormous commitments and at times sacrifice by the artists, efforts which have commanded admiration and respect throughout the ages. In Shiho Kanzaki's work one sees an apparent third discipline or concept at work and that is an embodiment of spirituality. A feeling of the love of humanity is reflected in his ceramic forms, the ritual of trial by fire, implicit. Speaking as a teacher I have seen the "traditional" arts pave the way for many contemporary artist's careers. In this respect, the leadership Kanzaki brings to his field of ceramic art certainly must act as a standard bearer for Japan's artists.
Mr. Kanzaki's work came to my attention through a mutual friend, Peter Callas, an artist from New Jersey. I am grateful for this introduction because over the past few years have come to know Shiho and his work and lean through the bits of history and friendly confrontations something of the parts which make up this remarkable man. Kanzaki is a Buddhist Priest, a potter, a communicator. One can attach to him only the highest marks of achievement as he has been able to successfully blend spirituality into his work thus achieving a visible heightened awareness which is so rarely seen in modern societies. The complex world that Kanzaki embraces can be described as a blend of Buddhism and philosophy, the visual arts the fascination and respect for the wood fired kiln. His path is nurtured, I believe, by his contemplative, traditional life style.
He was invited by the ceramic department, headed by Karl Beamer, to be a resident artist of Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. Upon arrival Kanzaki set about building a large, anagama kiln on Professor Beamers site. Why one would undertake a project of such great responsibility is a question that can be answered only by the man with vision. The answer Mr. Kanzaki gives us is, "I choose for spiritual reasons"
I have always had a Zen attitude toward my life and art and have felt a strong kinship toward Japanese art and artists. My work has been influenced primarily by the Abstract Expressionist Movement while a traditional to modern lineage of Japanese art has been Mr. Kanzaki's primary influence but both journeys become one when dealing with the art of the fire. Our forms are different but our essential elements are alike. Shiho Kanzaki has found that rare equation of being able to transcend the physical in to a deeper and more meaningful one of Spirituality.