Graceland alumnus Peter Hamann ‘78 is a professional ceramic artist who now lives in Japan and recently realized a lifelong dream to achieve a solo show in New York. Hamann learned from Graceland faculty such as Les Wight(Graceland faculty from 1961-87), Mel Clark (Graceland faculty from 1971-84) and Dan Keegan (Graceland faculty from 1974-76 and 1980-90), and you may have seen some of his work around Graceland’s Lamoni campus.
“This is a lifelong dream of mine,” shared Hamann. “I’m only sorry that Les Wight and Mel Clark were not here to share it with me, but grateful that Dan Keegan was able to join the celebration.”
In addition to his New York exhibition, Hamann was also recently highlighted as a featured potter in “Honoho Geijutsu,” a Japanese magazine featuring the pleasures of ceramics, which was also a proud achievement for him.
Hamann’s solo exhibition, “Carving White Translucence,” took place Sept. 6-22 at the Onishi Gallery in New York City. The following information was shared by the gallery.
Carving White Translucence: Peter Hamann, a solo exhibition of leading ceramic artist Peter Hamann. Born in Nebraska in 1956, Hamann moved to Japan as a young adult to study Yabunouchi-style tea ceremony. His passion for Japanese culture led him to stay in Japan and pursue the ceramic arts, ultimately enabling him to teach Japanese ceremonial tea techniques and gain his Japanese citizenship. This exhibition showcases the stunning and innovative ceramic pieces that Hamann has refined over the decades, uniquely drawing upon his American roots and Japanese aesthetics.
On perfectly rounded spheres, delicate angular patterns are pressed into polished blue-white porcelain, visible to the eye and sensible to the touch but still unreal in their masterful execution. Hamann’s work falls into the category of kogei, functional ware that is celebrated for its beauty as much as for its utility. Because of his unusual position as an American ceramic master of this Japanese art form, Hamann has been able to expand the boundaries of kogei. He writes of his work that it, “reflects many things that Japanese people often say that no Japanese artists would ever think of or do, and yet at the same time, I am also a champion of the functional beauty of kogei, something I hope to always preserve in my pieces… The looseness of my work probably derives from my ‘American spirit,’ my willingness to improvise along with a strong desire to keep my porcelain pieces softer and more natural to make them interesting and active.”
The contrast of smooth circular forms with sharp geometric surface designs creates a tension that draws the eye around and across the form in continuous loops. Hamann intentionally creates this dynamic, noting that, “The shape itself and the carved pattern need to create motion, which is my prime objective, but the final piece must also have a degree of stability.” Hamann’s life experience itself, spanning continents and crossing cultural contexts, has also balanced motion and stability, setting the stage for his creative expression of this negotiation in clay. Integrating his native-born American sensibilities with his long-studied Japanese aesthetic awareness, Hamann creates simply perfected shapes that glimmer in blue-white glaze and porcelain possibility.
As former Director of the Milwaukee Museum of Art, Daniel T. Keegan, has said of Hamann’s work, “It is loaded with richness: a balance of form and subtlety; the careful melding of shape and surface treatment; stability yet weightlessness; clarity of color and a perfect fit of glaze to clay; a celadon blue as pure as morning light breaking thin through humid warm air in summer, pooling just right in creases and carvings resulting in translucence of form. But it is also a translucence of esthetic—sensual, rhythmic, precise, changing and poetic. Only a lifetime of study and the resulting mastery can bear these results.” Do not miss this opportunity to see such mastery made material.
You can view the gallery's listing of Hamman and some of his work here.