Shinichi Sawada: Agents of Clay

April 27 - August 11, 2024

Mint Museum Randolph


Shinichi Sawada: Agents of Clay presents a collection of mesmerizing ceramic sculptures by the Japanese contemporary artist Shinichi Sawada.

Presented in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the exhibition is the first traveling solo exhibition in the United States for Sawada and features a captivating collection of his mesmerizing clay figures created over the past decade. The sculptures are a fusion of various creatures, combining features from mammals, fish, birds, insects, as the artist’s own fantastical creations. These intricate works of art often boast multiple faces, an abundance of eyes, and intricate patterns of incised lines, bumps, horns, and scales.

Each sculpture is fired consistently for three days and three nights, and the oven takes a week to cool before the pieces are removed. Depending on where the pieces were placed in the kiln determines the gray, black, or red color of each piece, making each genuinely unique. These pieces exemplify the artist’s ability to bridge the gap between traditional art making and craft production, offering viewers a glimpse into a world where imagination knows no bounds.

About the artist

Shinichi Sawada’s artistic training began in 2000 through the Nakayoshi Fukushikai Welfare Association through a program aimed at assisting neurodivergent individuals in finding employment and fostering independence. He divides his time between the ceramic studio and the organization’s bakery, working in the ceramic studio twice a week. His works are unglazed, the variation of color coming from the ash settling on the surfaces and fusing with the clay. Drawing inspiration from the millennia-old tradition of wood-burning Shigaraki kilns and Japanese imagery, Sawada’s creations embody his environment—from the history of Japanese figuration to the mountainous region where he resides.

After its debut at The Mint Museum, the exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis September 6, 2024-February 9, 2025.

Related Events

From their enchanting faces and mesmerizing surfaces to the alluring tactile nature, Shinichi Sawada’s sculptures inspire you to start drawing the things that live in your mind and make you ache to pound and twist some clay, which is such a cathartic medium for internal release.

– Jen Sudul Edward, Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary art at The Mint Museum

Explore more

Image Captions

View all image captions