Artist-Made Teapots on Display at Racine Art Museum
Racine, WI August 4, 2020
Over the last twenty years, the Racine Art Museum (RAM) has built one of the largest public collections of contemporary artist-made teapots in the United States. With over 500 pieces—mostly made of clay yet also including metal, fiber, and other media—there are a number of artists subjects and techniques represented. Open August 7, 2020 through July 25, 2021 in the unique street-facing Windows on Fifth Gallery at RAM, Someone’s Cup of Tea: Contemporary Teapots from RAM’s Collection features a sampling of the museum’s current holdings.
Objects that are used in rituals—and therefore connected to social and cultural traditions—have symbolic or metaphoric significance as well as practical function. The teapot can be a container for liquid but could also be considered a vessel for communication and a symbol of interpersonal relationships as well as historic events. As part of a ritual, it is held in human hands though it can be understood without being touched. As such, the teapot is a rather mundane object that can still have power.
Artists such as Ah Leon and Richard Shaw manipulate clay so that it looks like other materials. Their use of trompe l’oeil style—a French phrase that roughly translates to “fool the eye”—allows them to reinvent clay teapots into doppelgangers of objects like a twisted tree branch, a suitcase, screws, or even a shoe.
Cindy Kolodziejski and Joan Takayama-Ogawa explore decorative concepts both in form and content. Both artists use shiny, luster glazes that draw the eye and imply a certain kind of wealth and luxury. Yet their works also directly challenge the use and function of a teapot as they create conceptual objects that examine the form or serve purposes other than being actual containers for tea.
Maintaining more traditional shapes and a sense of function, Carmen Collell and Mark Shapiro offer somewhat more conventional versions of the teapot, reflecting their concerns with the practical as well as the aesthetic.
These themes are represented through diverse styles and techniques by artists from across the United States. The teapots featured in Someone’s Cup of Tea reflect a general interest in analyzing the past and a particular interest in exploring the idea of form and function.
Exhibitions at Racine Art Museum are made possible by: Platinum Sponsors — Anonymous, Nicholas and Nancy Kurten, Windgate Foundation; Diamond Sponsors — National Endowment for the Arts, Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation, Ruffo Family Foundation Inc.; Gold Sponsors — Anonymous, Tom and Irene Creecy, David Flegel, Herzfeld Foundation, Racine Community Foundation, Twin Disc, W.T. Walker Group, Inc.; Silver Sponsors — A.C. Buhler Family, Andis Foundation, David Charak, Lucy G. Feller, Johnson Bank, Dorothy MacVicar, Real Racine, Trio Foundation of St. Louis, Wisconsin Arts Board; Bronze Sponsors — Andis Company, Virginia Buhler, Tom and Jane Devine, David and Ellen Easley, Educators Credit Union, Eye Care Center of Waterford, Ben and Dawn Flegel, Frederick and Deborah Ganaway, William A. Guenther, Tom and Sharon Harty, Angela Jacobi, Bill Keland, Knight Barry Title Group, Eric Koopmeiners and Lena Vigna; Media Sponsors — Wisconsin Public Radio.
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