The Magic of Craft: Eriko Inazaki’s ‘Metanoia’ wins the Loewe Foundation’s 2023 Craft Prize

May 19, 2023



Shan Arcega

This May 17, 2023, the Noguchi Museum founded in 1985 by Isamu Noguchi stood as the glowing center that housed the work of over 30 exceptionally talented artists. From classic materials like bronze, ceramics, glass, and wood to paper, bark, pearls, and recycled bags, each craft was a unique piece that showcased the complexities of human thought and feelings. Among these, 51-year-old Japanese ceramicist Eriko Inazaki’s Metanoia (2019) was crowned the new winner of the Loewe Foundation’s 2023 Craft Prize. 

Metanoia (2019) by Eriko Inazaki has an electric form that evokes a symphony of radiant energy. Image from The Loewe Foundation

The 2023 edition of the Loewe Foundation’s Craft Prize presents an exhibition of work that explore meditative and time-extensive techniques combined with the skillful manipulation of various materials.

Next to Eriko Inazaki’s Metanoia (2019) is Maki Imoto’s Torus of Powdered (2022). Image by The Loewe Foundation

 A captivating white ceramic orb that almost looks like a heart engulfed in intricate details similar to starbursts, and ultra-fine extrusions like that of a coral formed by pinching the clay entirely by hand, Metanoia gained high praise from Jonathan Anderson himself who commented with the take on how the strange, mind-defying piece gives one a sense of anxiety since you don’t exactly know what it’s made of. Standing at nine and a half inches tall, Metanoia has an intentionally electric design. 

Metanoia (2019) by Eriko Inazaki. Image from The Loewe Foundation

According to Inazaki, Metanoia is meant to express a beating heart abounding with life and is an onomatopoeia for the word ‘sparkle’. The winning craft took over a year to create since its creation included a labor-intensive process of building up the many layers with hundreds of minuscule components that make up its mind-boggling depth. This complexity was only achieved through layering and arranging its small, intricacies and fixing them to the blue clay core before firing it into the kiln. Demonstrating the necessary balance between technical excellence and artistry, Metanoia’s careful composition bursts with a buzzing symphony that hums across its surface.  

Eriko Inazaki is an artist motivated by the opportunity to create something physical out of the mind’s imaginings. She has been honored with two Asahi Contemporary Craft awards in the early 1990s. In 2012, she also won the Varaždin City award against more than 125 international artists for best artwork at the Ceramic Multiplex exhibition in eastern Croatia. Alongside Metanoia, Inazaki has created several other hand-made pieces that are equally intricate and organic in form. These captivating sculptures are all made by rolling and pinching tiny pieces of clay into organic, biological structures that highlight a sense of fragility and anxiety due to the overlapping layers.

Arcadia (2016) by Eriko Inazaki. Photo by Keizo Kioku

Watch Eriko Inazaki’s sculpting process in this video from Keiko Art International.

Enza (2019) by Eriko Inazaki. Photo by Akira Takahashi

Alongside Eriko Inazaki, the Craft Prize jury also awarded two special mentions–Moe Watanabe for ‘Transfer Surface’–a walnut bark box made from a material found during a walk through the forests of the Tohoku region and a reference to architectural construction and the tradition of mending, and Dominique Zinkpè for ‘The Watchers’ which is a towering wood structure that references traditional Yoruba beliefs. 

Transfer Surface (2022) by Moe Watanabe recalls the ancient Japanese tradition of Ikebana vase making. Image by The Loewe Foundation
The Watchers (2022) by Dominique Zinkpè evokes traditional Yoruba beliefs connected with multiple births. Image by The Loewe Foundation

The exhibition will be open from May 17 through June 18 at the Noguchi Museum, New York. You can also experience the 2023 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize digital exhibition here.

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