Senior Thesis Spotlight | Keita Tsutsumi

Keita Tsutsumi is working with ceramics and sculpture to create his pieces that focus on the human form and “their cohesion with abstraction”. We wish Keita the best of luck after graduation and look forward to seeing his pieces during the student thesis show! 
H/E: Where are you from?  
KT: I was born in Portland, Oregon though moved to Boone, North Carolina when I was 16. The only substantial art things I did prior to college were classes that I took when I was in elementary school…But I loved it, however I was alway scared to do it because… well, I wasn’t the best with my motor skills…
H/E: How long have you been creating with your choice of medium? 
KT: I started working with clay when I was a senior in High School up in Boone. (At that time I had no idea I was in one of the richest parts of the country for pottery!)
H/E: What exactly is your process and your theme for your senior thesis? 
KT: Well, while I have been trained on the wheel for a majority of my ceramics experience, I have recently turned to hand building and sculpting.  However, my favorite process that I indulge in is throwing the pieces that I use to hand build, stacking them and blending them to make something bigger.  Right now, some themes in my work include the human form and figure and their cohesion with abstraction.
    I always start with a glance.  I look at sculptures, portraits, passers by, anything revealing that accentuates parts of or the whole human body. After I make a few general sketches of a gesture I like, I will then throw a base (basically a bowl shape) and additional pieces to stack on top.  when they are all still fairly wet but dry enough to hold weight, I start stacking them, at first just a couple so that I have time to sculpt it.  I then let that dry a bit because all the manipulation weakens parts of it, then add more and sculpt more.
H/E: Why did you decide to apply for senior thesis? 
KT: For some reason, when I came to Guilford, the thesis program grabbed my attention and all of a sudden, my passion.  I knew I would try to do one come my senior year.  Ever since I first saw Jeremy’s show, I knew that the only thing that could make me happiest, or that could make my college experience worth while, was to be able to show my peers and my mentors how much they had taught me, and what I could do with everything that I learned… I see it as a way to give back to my school (and my department).  Of course, there is a certain prestige when you are chosen by those whom you absolutely respect to have the opportunity to publicly display your work.
      Every Thesis show has been a magical experience that allowed me to see what my school mates had turned into after four years of Guilford.  Each one got me more and more excited, and when I was asked if I was going to apply for thesis, my answer was, “hell yes.”
H/E: Who/what are your influences? 
KT: In my current work, I find great influence from all kinds of figure sculptors, from Michelangelo to Bracci.  I am envious of the precision and beauty that is captured by italian sculptors, but not envious enough to try and resurrect their mastery.  I look upon Rodin,  Rosso, and Degas to gain a impressionistic perspective and try to converge both precision and controlled laxation.
      Of course, in general, the human body is my biggest influence.  I am obsessed with everything they can do, everything they in fact do, as well as everything they hypothetically do…theoretically… What can they do? What can they do in clay?  
H/E: What are some of the difficult aspects to your process
KT: Timing, man.  There is so much of it but never enough.  Especially working with clay and having four ceramicists in the studio, and only so many times we can fire a kiln.  I am a bit nervous about firing kilns with such short deadlines ambitious (productive) potters, but of course we’ll get it done!
H/E: What are your plans after graduation? 
KT: My plans for art are to network and insert myself in the art world as much as I can, museums, galleries, artists, residencies,  OPPORTUNITIES!!!  …of which I am still looking.
     Nothing is definite, but I am looking at grad schools for art therapy as well.  That is my ultimate goal in life, in terms of professional work force paths.
     Outside of art, the plan that I am most excited about is moving to Japan and teaching english. 
H/E: Anything else you would like to add?
KT: Thesis means so much to me I cannot possibly explain it in an interview, not to mention words…  However, I would like to say that these professors are the driving force of the art department and have offered us so much.  They have given us thesis students the ultimate opportunity of a college lifetime.  I am so honored and so grateful that my freshman year dreams are coming true. This thesis is different than others because it is a direct step forward in our careers.

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  1. […] Malony’s, which were delicately placed on a table. Traveling to the room across the hall were Keita Tsutsumi’s pieces which combined abstraction with the human body in a sculptural form. Keita’s ability […]