2017 Individual Artist: Hiroshi Sueyoshi

Individual Artist Criteria:  Individual Artist category is open to artists of exceptional talent and creativity, in any discipline, whose contribution to the arts has helped guide and influence directions, trends and aesthetic practices.

“To use old materials from the ground and wood from the local mountains and ashes, so I think that kind of influences me still.  Also I think it’s Japanese way, to do with nature’s and organic way.”  — Hiroshi Sueyoshi

Hiroshi Sueyoshi was born in Ishikawa, Japan in 1946. In 1968 an encounter with Shoji Hamada, leader of the Japanese Folk Art movement, influenced Sueyoshi to travel to the United States. Hamada told Sueyoshi to travel to different cultures before the age of 25, so in 1971 he came to Asheboro, NC to help design and build Humble Mill Pottery. In 1978 he moved to Wilmington where he taught at Cape Fear Community College for more than 25 years. From 2006 to 2015, Sueyoshi served as the artist-in-residence at the Cameron Art Museum.

Sueyoshi notes, “I was going to stay five years but still I’m here.” He is one of the premier visual artists in Wilmington, with work in the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, Worcester Art Museum, Mint Museum, Cameron Art Museum, Asheville Art Museum, and the World Modern Ceramic Museum of Foshan, China.

During his career, Sueyoshi became known for his ability to navigate Japanese and North Carolina folk pottery traditions with an overlay of the freedom he saw in the strong movement of Peter Voulkos’ work in America. Sueyoshi notes, “To use old materials from the ground and wood from the local mountains and ashes, so I think that kind of influences me still. Also I think it’s Japanese way, to do with nature’s and organic way.”

His ability to teach is second to none, with classes that were always oversubscribed until his retirement from teaching in 2015. He influenced students for over 45 years. To Sueyoshi, “Teaching is a kind of learning.”

Sueyoshi is also the Founder and long-term President of the Coastal Carolina Clay Guild. This organization has emerged as a thriving guild of potters who learn from each other during monthly meetings and extend Sueyoshi’s legacy through the annual EMPTY BOWLS fundraising event to address world-wide hunger.

In 2006, Sueyoshi was named a “North Carolina Living Treasure” at UNCW. His exhibition “Hiroshi Sueyoshi: A Matter of Reverence” was held at the Cameron Art Museum from November 2014 to April 2015 and then extended an additional five months because of it’s popularity. Sueyoshi is recognized by art professionals, former students, community leaders and his many friends for his multifaceted contributions to the community. He is recognized as an exceptional potter/sculptor, teacher and outstanding representative of the arts in Wilmington.

Sueyoshi states that, “My pottery is constantly something more like a born.” He refers to the organic nature he embraces when making pottery. The piece is a destination that evolves on its own accord. It is much like his life and work that continues to be born in art, in family, in friendships, and in his legacy.

Information:  hiroshisueyoshi.com


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Our Sponsors:  The Arts In Wilmington Awards are made possible with a generous award from PNC Bank with additional support from Intracoastal Realty and Arts Friendly


Information:  Contact Craig Stinson at 910-524-2679 or Email