Tea and the ceremonies it inspires have brought people people together across centuries and across continents. People have gathered, celebrated, and connected as they share the product of hot water and tea leaves that is steeped in teapots, a simple device that has brought people together and inspired complex traditions. For over a decade, Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery, has organized their annual teapot invitational, which is a multi-media celebration of the time-honored vessel, as well as an opportunity to showcase the creativity of artists working in glass and other materials. The gallery, which was Pittsburgh's first art gallery devoted to contemporary glass, is currently exhibiting its 11th annual teapot exhibition, and features striking new ways of thinking about this vessel that can be traced back to 13th-century China.
The exhibit titled "teapots!" presents non-functional, structurally diverse contemporary teapots that demonstrate the cultural significance of tea. It features over 60 artists, including Jesse Whipkey, Ron Layport, Andy Paiko, Mark Leputa, Claire Kelly, Jean Ann Fausser, Robert Mickelsen, and many more.
In a telephone interview, gallery director and owner, Amy Morgan, told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet that teapots "historically come out of glass tradition", however a lot of artists this year bring their own form to the table. "Our show continues to surprise me through each artist’s unique interpretation of the teapot," Morgan said, reflecting on the past 10 iterations of the exhibition. "What I find most appealing every year is the subtlety of the form, as some artists express their design concepts through a formal structure, while others do so through abstraction and figural work.”
Although Morgan stated there is no single unifying theme to this year's gathered teapots, she did note that there is an "earthy" character that runs through some of the work. Morgan also reflected on the symbolism of the teapot and how its importance is felt through the exhibit. She said, "I love the whole idea of what [the teapot] means; people coming together. She even mentioned how the even the imagery associated with this aspect will have patrons "think[ing] about the joys of living".
The exhibit, which debuted on Friday, is something people can can really enjoy. "Everybody gains something", Morgan said. "Teapots become a metaphor for community, social mores, and tradition". Because of the ceremonial aspects of tea, the exhibit showcases the "whimsical and cultural aspect" of tea, which the viewing public can take away and appreciate when they leave.
IF YOU GO:"teapots!11" April 7th - June 11th, 2017 5833 Ellsworth Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15232 Tel: 412.441.5200