After graduating from design school, Tanioka worked at an advertising
company for two years. He was not happy there and one day, in a book, he
found a photograph of one of Shono Shounsai's most famous baskets. He
decided then and there to study bamboo art. At the age of 25, he
apprenticed himself to Tanabe Chikuunsai II and, by 1984, he had become an
independent bamboo artist.
Widely recognized in Japan as one of the most artistically gifted of the
younger generation of bamboo artists, Tanioka has won many prestigious
awards, including the President's Prize from the Japan Craft Arts
Association in 2001. The next year he was a finalist for the Cotsen Bamboo
Prize and in 2004 was its sole recipient. His work is part of collections
at the Sakai City Museum, Craft Arts Hall in Shiga, San Francisco Asian Art
Museum, and Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art. He was
included in "The Next Generation" at the University of Arkansas.
"The goal of bamboo artists is to show how well you can reconstruct the
natural beauty of bamboo through your creativity, originality, and
techniques of weaving and plaiting," he says. "To make a piece for
exhibition takes months of work. Probably the best analogy I can use to
describe this process is climbing a mountain. It is a long and hard
process. When you are finally on top, you feel the moment of satisfaction.
Yet this satisfaction won't last long."
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