Yukari Kashihara's pottery nods to her heritage

Sunday, January 25, 2009 | 12:00 p.m. CST
Yukari Kashihara has been working with ceramics for about 10 years. She graduated from MU with a master's degree in fine arts in 2003. "The first time I touched clay it was fun," Kashihara said. "I fell in love with the material, the medium, the clay."

COLUMBIA — Yukari Kashihara is surprised and delighted that she has a show of her ceramics at Orr Street Studios. She didn't hesitate when an opening came up.

Kashihara's work is a beautiful fusion of Japanese and American cultures. "It has an Asian influence, but it's not intentional," she said. "It just comes out that way."

If you go

What: Ceramic art of Yukari Kashihara 

When: Through Feb. 13. Gallery hours are from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, plus special events.

Where: Orr Street Studios, 106 Orr St.

Admission: Free

More information:

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Making any type of pottery requires a high level of discipline and technique — a throwing technique Kashihara said took her at least five years to master. But she understands that pottery is not all about skill.   

Kashihara said that in creating something, she might have an idea of how she hopes the final product will turn out. But "the little things just happen," she said. The clay "has its own mind. You don't always have control."   

Born and raised in Osaka, Japan, she is inspired by nature and the peaceful atmosphere of Rocheport, west of Columbia along the Missouri River, where she and her husband, Thomas Scharenborg, also an artist, live. The couple married in 2003 and the next year bought a 100-year-old house in disrepair from a friend.

"It didn't even have a doorknob," Kashihara said.

The couple spent a few years fixing the house and building a studio and shop to sell their work to the public. Today, the lines are blurred between living space, studio and storefront.

"We kind of inspire and motivate each other," Kashihara said. "If I see him working on something in the house, it makes me want to start working on something, too." 

Some might miss the privacy having a shop in your house takes away, but Kashihara said it doesn't bother her at all. She said she likes being able to interact face to face with her customers and give them suggestions based on their preferences.  

Kashihara said her mother and father encouraged her to pursue her passion in the arts. Her father, Isao Kashihara, was an amateur photographer, and Yukari Kashihara's pottery at Orr Street Studios is accented by a few of his photographs shot in Kyoto and Nara, Japan.

Just around the corner from his wife's pottery show, Scharenborg has some of his photographs on display. They are byproducts of a trip Scharenborg made to Japan, when his father-in-law took him around to places that inspired him.

"I felt like his Padawan," Scharenborg said, referring to Jedi apprentices in the "Star Wars" series.

Scharenborg said his wife's pottery inspires a sense of meditation and peace, and their work at Orr Street Studios ties together their collective appreciation of art and the way the Japanese culture has influenced them both creatively. This year marks the seventh since her father's death, and Kashihara said the show feels like a commemoration.

"When we were growing up, art was a luxury; art was not an option," Kashihara said. "They're both (her parents) happy that I'm doing what I love. I think they see themselves in me sometimes."

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