Steeped in Tradition
October 23, 2021 - March 20, 2022Harris - Burger Gallery
After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and it plays a profound role in many cultures. Over 2 billion cups are consumed per day worldwide. Because of this, teaware—objects related to the consumption of tea—has been a popular outlet for artistic expression. This exhibition includes contemporary teapots, tea bowls, cups and saucers and other tea-related objects from the museum’s permanent collection. Whether they are intended to be fully functional, ornamental, or somewhere in between, these artworks showcase the endless possibilities for creativity in teaware.
Teapots (along with other teaware in this exhibition) can hold clues to history, cultural and societal practices, identity, and self-expression. Many contemporary artists are drawn to them not only for their important place in the history of ceramics but also for the technical challenge. Making a teapot requires mastery of many techniques and is somewhat a rite of passage for many artists working in clay. Elements like the handle can be handbuilt, one of the oldest techniques for working with clay, while the body and spout could be produced on the potter’s wheel, all of which takes practice and skill. While some artists prefer to create functional teapots, others adapt the form with no intention of it ever being used.