Last September at the inaugural World Tea East trade show, attendees inscribed t-sacs with prayers and messages of hope for those in Japan stricken by the Tohoku Quake. This month their expressions of support are on display in the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art.
During the past five years Hudson Guild Resident Artist Michele Brody has been recording and collecting the reflections of tea drinkers on tea bags from many communities and teahouses. Project installations have included a New York City coffee cart and within art galleries draped from a copper frame resembling a mobile teahouse house to neighborhood cafes.
“The final result is to compile these colorfully delicate memoirs into a fluttering room sized quilt that from afar forms an overall composition, while when read up close, is seen to be pieced together with individual unique drawings,” says Brody.
"Reflections in Tea" is inspired by the worldwide tradition of drinking and sharing tea, where the ritual performance of preparing loose leaf tea provided by Serendipitea within special t-sacs is shared with individuals and groups in open public spaces. After which participants’ conversations about Tea are preserved by being transcribed onto the stained tea bags that have been dried and flattened, culminating in the creation of a fluttering paper quilt.
“The copper framed mobile teahouse is a place for the public to share their stories over a pot of tea and discuss how drinking tea is practiced throughout the world as a transformative custom,” explains Brody.
“These traditions can be as simple as a break from the work day during afternoon tea in Britain, to the welcoming of a stranger into one’s home in the Middle East, to the formalized ritual production of the Japanese tea ceremony in spiritual tea houses,” she says.
Brody’s most recent work is a 16-foot tea quilt was recently on display in the Courtyard Gallery of the World Financial Center and her Drawing Roots project on Sustainability is currently on display at the Manhattanville College Arthur M. Berger Gallery. The Reflections project is in the process of creating an interactive website where the public is invited to create virtual tea bag reflections. As well as an edition of hand bound books documenting the process and collection of these reflections in tea. www.michelebrody.com