Shoshi Watanabe is a Japanese ceramicist and teacher based in Los Angeles. As a high school student in Tokyo, Watanabe first began working with clay and considers his exposure to the culture of ceramics in Japan to have had a considerable influence on the style of his functional work. In 2014, he completed an MFA in ceramics from UCLA, where he now supervises students and maintains a studio. Having lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, and worked closely with mentor Adrain Saxe, his work has gradually come to blend Western and Japanese styles and techniques.
Watanabe draws considerable inspiration from Los Angeles: color palettes, a sense of ease and utility, a diversity of cultures. Some of his most-used glazes are based on 50-year-old glaze recipes from California, passed down by Saxe. California runs deeply through his practice, even as his sense of rhythm and balance, and hand-application of glazes, distinctly recall Japanese traditions. Watanabe sees ceramics as alchemy, in which elements derived from the earth — clay, minerals, and organic materials — are transformed to create artifacts that tie directly to their place of origin.