Visiting Artist Lecture # 2 Madison Dye

Carlos Runcie-Tanaka

Carlos Runicie-Tanaka

April 15, 2008 Visiting Artist Lecture Video



Carlos Runcie-Tanaka is an artist who works almost exclusively in pottery. He derives most of his inspiration from his very diverse heritage of Peru and Japan, as well as nature. In the beginning of his talk, Runcie-Tanaka says that working with his hands, and being in full tactile contact with his material is a very important part of the creative process for him. He also said that connecting his personal background and experiences to nature and the surrounding environment is a crucial part of his inspiration. His works range from collections of individual pottery ware to full, large-scale instillations. Since he is Peruvian, he spends a good deal of time contemplating and defining how that influences him. He explains that there are three major landscapes in Peru: the snowy mountains, the low hot desert, and the humid coastlands. All three of these locations impact his work in a different way, and really enforce the nature aspect of his influences.

My immediate emotional response to his work was one of serenity and peacefulness. Runcie-Tanaka had traveled to Japan only a few months before this lecture was filmed, and gained a lot of inspiration from Zen Gardens. The tranquility and serenity that he experienced while spending time in these Japanese Zen Gardens are clearly influential in his work. Since nature and serenity are such crucial aspect of inspiration for him, it is easy to see why they elicit such a feeling of tranquility from the majority of his audience. Runcie-Tanaka’s work also deals a lot with his own personal cultural heritage, which is why he dedicated so much time to traveling back and forth between North America, South America and Japan. His work is very reflective of his cultural diversity, which is why I think that upon viewing his work, I had a strong desire to research and become closer with my own personal cultural heritage. Connecting with heritage and personal background is one of the important messages of his work. His work is basically autobiographical, and I think that the fact that it is so honest and personal is what really draws attention to his pieces, and makes them seem not only visually interesting, but sincere as well.

One of his most famous works is a political installation piece. There are two giant clay spheres displayed in class cases. Both have text covering them, one sphere is Spanish, and one in English. This piece is categorized as political because the text in English on one of the spheres basically condemns war as man’s main flaw, and urges countries to strive to world piece instead of engaging in warfare. The sphere in Spanish is less political, but instead is a personal mantra, or repetitive chant that makes the artist feel peaceful when the state of the world seems to be all about aggression. Aside from personal influences, another major component of his work is that it is in clay. He started with a pottery wheel but abandoned it in favor of using his hands naturally. Many of his pieces are 3 dimensional organic abstract forms, and clay, which is a relatively nature based medium. All of these aspects really work together to unite his pieces and make them more visually interesting.

Another aspect of his work that aids in the visual appeal is that many of his pieces, especially his installation works, incorporate organic material from the country that inspired them. For example, red stones found in the Peruvian desert, or volcanic granite found in Mexico. The geometric patterns that cover many of his smaller pieces, contrasted with the organic abstract forms they are displayed upon also help in unifying the pieces.


One Response

  1. I really enjoyed reading your lecture review and learning about Carlos Runcie-Tanaka. I was really captivated by your description of his work because I am particularly interested in artist who deal with the theme of identity. I decided to look up Runcie-Tanaka and I was pleasantly surprised by his unique, organic-looking sculptures and installations. His pieces really convey his heritage and the environment he comes from by his utilization of earth tones and a rustic aesthetic. Thank you for introducing me to this amazing artist!

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