Invited by Jen Allen
OC: Where is your current studio (city, state)?
RY: Pittsburgh, PA
OC: How long have you been working in clay?
RY: On and off for 25 years!
OC: Can you share a bit about your education or background?
RY: I was born in California, raised in Japan. I always had a strong interest in making objects, but when I moved to United States as a high school student, I took my first ceramics class. I did not speak a word of English when I moved, and I was looking for a class that I could participate while I learned the language. I was fortunate to have a very dedicated, great teacher and there, I fell in love with the process, the material.
That classroom was the only place where I felt comfortable, where I felt I could communicate despite my not knowing a word of English. Since, I went onto pursue a BFA from Alfred University, where I graduated in 1999.
I chose Alfred because I was interested in ceramics, but there I developed other interests such as video and printmaking. This lead me to take a break from clay for a number of years until about 2008 when I started to miss the tactile quality of the clay so much that I went back to taking class at community art centers. It was when I was pregnant with my first son in 2010 that I realized I wanted to take my interest in ceramics to the next level. From 2011, I have been more active in getting my work out, to be seen and to be sold.
OC: What is a current go-to for studio tunes?
RY: Usually NPR, but these days the news can be quite depressing so I turn to podcasts more. Open to any recommendations!
OC: What is your favorite thing about clay/the ceramic process?
RY: The tactile nature of the material is something that I was drawn to from the beginning. I love that the clay responds so directly to your touch, and reflects your state of mind. It helps me slow down and pay attention, something I’ve grown to appreciate even more now that I am a mother of two!
To find out more about Reiko, please visit her website: