In the Yixing ceramic tradition, scholars use tea to stimulate their work and intellectual discourse among their cohort. Yixing teapot designs are filled with symbolic content which express aesthetic attitudes and intellectual interests. Before a gathering, a host will carefully select a teapot for its particular symbolism in order to influence a stimulating dialogue.
As an undergraduate at the University of Miami, I spent a few hours each afternoon alongside Bonnie Seeman as she worked in her studio. We drank oolong poured from small Yixing teapots. Shelves lining her studio were densely packed with her collection of Yixing pots and mugs by contemporary potters. While sipping tea, we discussed art, craft, politics, and our personal narratives. Through Bonnie’s mentorship and in this environment––rich with contemporary and traditional ceramics––I developed my love for ceramics and decided to become an artist. Tea became an essential stimulus to my working process, and later Bonnie’s Yixing teapots became a source of inspiration.
I created the following series of sculptural teapots in an Yixing-inspired style in recognition of the central role tea, Yixing ceramics, and Bonnie's mentorship played in my artistic development.
Each tea ware was hand-built to one-eighth scale of its original and to varying degrees of functional practicality. The specific tools and appliances in the series were chosen as subjects because they were items I personally wanted to own for my studio and my home.
This series marks a period when material culture, desire, labor and consumption were central themes to my work and topics I hoped might be discussed by end users over many small cups of tea.