Passion for the potter's wheel

vaseWhen formal academic studies began to get in the way of a ceramics artist's vision for his creativity, he hit the road for a year's apprenticeship with a 15th generation potter in Japan. 

Guest interview by the Ceramics Program

Before  Koji Everard ’20 left for Japan to begin his year-long apprenticeship with a master potter, we sat down with him to ask why making time for his artistic ceramic practice is so important.

When and where did you begin your practice with clay?
My practice with clay began informally during my freshman year of high school. I went to a private high school in Los Anegles that had a fantastic arts program. I took an “Intro to

A stoneware vase by Koji Everard '20 Photos: Courtesy the artist
Potter’s Wheel” course to fulfill an art requirement, and I found the wheel quite intriguing. But I wasn’t that into pottery then— my lack of control made the process very annoying and I was also an athlete and had very little free time. But I liked the break ceramics provided from my academic schedule so I kept taking the next ceramics course.  I quit being athlete right before my junior year which suddenly gave me a lot of free time. Gradually I started spending it more at the studio, and really began to improve my basic throwing skills. I like to think that my practice with clay really began my senior year of High School. I had two fantastic teachers who saw my love for the wheel and really gave me a lot of freedom in the studio.  I also owe my interest in clay to my Japanese grandfather. He collects East Asian traditional pottery, and I saw a lot of Korean and Japanese ware growing up that I really liked. I think I deviated towards clay because of this early exposure.

How do you combine/balance your ceramic practice with your life as a Harvard student?
I think of my ceramics as an informal part of my course schedule. Ceramics works in stages and thus requires you to come back to your work periodically and monitor it.
Koji Everard '20
This forces me to have discipline in my work habits. I also don’t think of my ceramics as antagonistic to my academic studies. Going to the studio allows me to get away from the stress of school and decompress, a meditative activity that allows me to work more efficiently and do better in school. It certainly does require a time commitment, but it’s something I really look forward to and try and actively manage.

What is coming up in the future for you?
I’m taking next year off from school to apprentice under a potter in southern Japan. His name is Nakazato Taki and he’s a 15th generation potter in Karatsu, Saga prefecture. He works with a traditional kick-wheel and makes a very subtle, elegant style of work. While at school I really disliked how I had to compromise my approach to my work because of other obligations. I decided I wanted to look into taking another year off to apprentice during the second semester of my first year. It’s only in that kind of social isolation that I can reach the level of engagement and focus necessary to really pursue my work and hone my skills as a potter. I do have my reservations about leaving for another year – I’ll be 24 when I graduate college – but there’s no time like the present, and I was lucky enough to find a wonderful opportunity.

Special featureWatch a video of Koji Everard '20 and cellist Kartik Papatla '18 perform at 10th Annual Harvard Student Art Show Opening Reception.