International Women’s Day: Meet Eri Maeda

Written by Jenna | 8 March 2024

Every year, on the 8th of March, the world celebrates the achievements of women. At Catawiki, we celebrate women who design, create and make the special objects we love. 

In this interview series we sat down with four women to hear their stories and learn about their experiences. Meet artist and ceramicist, Eri Maeda.

How did you become an artist? What motivated you to pursue ceramic art? 

I became an artist because I felt a need to express my thoughts and opinions that were often suppressed in my life. I usually followed rules and kept quiet, but I realised that societal influences, especially from the media, were shaping my mind. 

Discovering the power of having my own opinions motivated me to pursue ceramic art. Clay, like me, absorbs impact and can be moulded in various ways. It's a tactile medium that allows me to visually share my personal story and make an impact on others.

Would you consider part of your work to be a reflection of your cultural heritage? 

Certainly. I combine my unique artistic style with the cultural themes and shared identity highlighted in Japanese culture. This mix allows me to express my individuality while including elements that connect with the broader cultural context. It creates a harmonious blend in my artistic work.

How does your work represent you as a person? And as a woman? 

My work serves as a mirror reflecting my personal journey and growth. The "Gucha" sculpture series, in particular, depicts my struggle with self-doubt, visualising the act of smashing the inner voice that often hindered my self-belief. 

As a woman, my art explores aspects of self-discovery, particularly emphasising the significance of acknowledging and embracing personal pleasure. The ceramic sculpture "Guilty Pleasure" visually captures these moments, aiming to spark open conversations about such experiences.

Through my work, I seek to break societal taboos and encourage a more inclusive dialogue. I'm thrilled about the evolution of my art as it continues to parallel my personal journey.

Can you tell us about the women who inspired you the most? 

Kaneko Misuzu, the Japanese poet, has been a profound inspiration for me, particularly through her poem "私と小鳥と鈴と" (Watashi to Kotori to Suzu to). 

I first encountered her work a long time ago in a school textbook. However, back then, I didn't fully grasp the depth of its meaning. It was later, upon revisiting her poetry, that the phrase "みんなちがってみんないい" (Minna chigatte minna ii) — "Everyone is different, and that's okay" — resonated with me. This realisation has transformed Misuzu's poetry into a comforting reminder, encouraging me to confidently express my opinions and share my personal story.

Her simple yet profound words now serve as a guiding influence, emphasising the beauty in our differences and inspiring me to appreciate individual perspectives while being true to myself.

How do you envision the future of your industry? How do you see yourself as an agent of change?

I believe more people will appreciate different stories and styles. As an artist, I want to be a part of this by sharing my own stories. I might not change everything but I hope to add something special to the art world, by connecting people and starting a conversation.

This effort goes beyond the art world and touches people from all walks of life.  I aim to contribute to a more open and inclusive world.

On the other hand, I hope my art would educate people, especially the next generation. By talking about cultural and societal issues, I want to make people aware, educate, and inspire positive change.

How do marketplaces like Catawiki help your work be seen on a global scale?

Platforms like Catawiki really help my art get noticed worldwide. They give my work a chance to be seen by people who love art from all over the globe. This means more people can discover and connect with what I create, even if they're far away. Being on Catawiki opens up new possibilities for my art to be recognized and appreciated by a diverse audience.

What advice do you have for the next generation of female artists with big dreams?

Celebrate your uniqueness, stay curious, and never stop learning. 

Self-belief is crucial in the subjective realm of art—trust in your abilities and the value of your creations. Celebrate your individuality and let curiosity and self-belief propel your creative journey forward.


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