Whether highly designed or purely utilitarian, there is no denying the simple elegance and beauty of teacups and teapots. Drinking tea goes back thousands of years. Its history is complicated and spreads across multiple cultures. Tea ceremonies, customs, and rituals arose where tea vessels play an important and necessary role. Asian tea ceremonies and customs contain an adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday life.1 Europeans engage in rituals of high tea or afternoon tea, while the American tea culture can trace its roots back to the Dutch settlers.
My mother introduced me to the culture of tea-drinking while I was still a very young boy. A fond memory is having tea in the morning before school, a little tradition I called “early tea.” All this led to my love and appreciation of teacups and teapots—their styles, shapes, and designs. In these objects I see wonderment, hope, and shared memories . . . That’s what imbues these paintings and works on paper.