Kuraoka was born in Kauai Hawaii in 1946. He is a graduate of San Jose State College (M.A. 1970-71) and is currently professor of art and head of ceramics at San Francisco State University. Kuraoka maintains studios in both San Francisco and Kauai. Recently his work has been included in Collective Visions 1967-1997 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (1997), Americans of Japanese Ancestry in Multicultural Hawaii organized by the Japanese American National Museum, Hawaii and touring to Washington DC and Japan (1999), the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (2001), and Showcase 2 at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco (2001). Kuraoka’s work has been collected by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, the College of San Mateo, the Rotterdam Modern Museum of Art, Utah State University, and by Hilary Rodham Clinton for the White House.
Most of Kuraoka’s pitfired pieces have the form of a vessel although they are completely sealed. He begins his work on the wheel but then manipulates and burnishes the piece to erase its signs and find the most desirable shape. Kuraoka has said that he takes his time finding the form because he has so little control over what happens to the surface of the piece during the pitfiring where the combination of wood ash, rock salt, and copper carbonate give the work its mottled white, red, and black pattern.