Sculpture by John Toki, featured in John Toki: Fault Lines.
Describing the multifaceted life of John Toki often feels like a geological expedition. Grounded in his cultivated Bay Area upbringing, Toki’s parents placed a great importance on art and education. From that foundation, Toki became an artist, teacher, businessman, author, inventor, and champion of the arts. Toki is also the former President of Leslie Ceramic Supply Company, Inc., a company founded by his parents Sayer and Akiko Leslie Toki in Berkeley, CA in 1946.
Toki is known for his monumental, abstract, totem-like sculptures that reference landscapes. Often they resemble a slice of earth exposing the layers of our planet, or perhaps a Californian fault line. Although some of his works weigh more than 1,000 pounds, Toki’s eye for detail is evident throughout, seen in his careful handling of surface textures and subtle color variation. His large-scale ceramic sculptures and public art projects are installed at the Oakland City Hall, Oakland Museum of California, the California Shakespeare Theatre, and the American Museum of Ceramic Art.
Much like the scale of his work, Toki’s artistic process is staggering, and at its core, a detailed study in the art of multitasking and what it means to be an artist. Fault Lines explores the ways that John Toki continues to be a vanguard of Bay Area sculpture, all the while navigating his own ever-evolving topography, achieved through a vast network of tectonic plates, shifting and colliding to inspire something larger than life: a force of nature, not unlike John Toki himself.
(Photo courtesy of AMOCA.)