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U of Minn. Professor Tetsuya Yamada wins $50,000 ceramics prize

October 25, 2011

Tetsuya Yamada, University of Minnesota associate professor in the Department of Art, has been awarded the grand prize at Gyeonggi Ceramix International, held in Gwangju, South Korea.

This highly regarded international ceramics competition draws hundreds of competitors from over 70 countries. Held since 2001, the contest has established itself as one of the largest and most prestigious of its kind in the world. Yamada received the $50,000 grand prize, the largest cash award available in contemporary ceramics.

His winning piece, heavenly thought, is on exhibition through Nov. 22 at the Icheon World Ceramic Center in Icheon, South Korea.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Yamada came to the United States in 1994. He earned an MFA from Alfred State College, SUNY and has been with the University of Minnesota since 2004. Additionally, he has served as artist-in-residence at the European Ceramic Work Centre in Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Alexis Kuhr, chair of the Department of Art, noted that “Tetsuya’s prodigious talent as an artist and an educator make him a highly valued member of our department. The Gwangju prize is an international honor is an international honor in the field of ceramics and we are proud and happy for Tetsuya.”

Yamada’s extensive exhibition record includes solo shows at Yoshii Gallery, New York; Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York; John Elder Gallery, New York; Art/38/Basel, Switzerland; and Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program Gallery at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. 

Reviewing his exhibition at the John Elder Gallery, New York for Sculpture magazine, Twylene Moyer wrote “pushing the notion of complexity in simplicity to its extreme, he has denatured clay and wood, perhaps the most earthbound of materials, rendering them ethereal.”

The work Yamada submitted to the competition can be downloaded at

Yamada - small 300
Tetsuya Yamada. heavenly thought, 2010. Ceramic.

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