Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jean Chiang featured in 'Tea, Glorious Tea'

Jean Chiang featured in Tea, Glorious Tea
at Revolution Gallery in Kingston
Aug 27-Sept 26, 2009

maps, tea leaves

Read more about the exhibition here in the Jamaica Observer. Below, Jean Chiang offers her eloquent statement about the show.


It is believed that the art of tasseography or reading tea leaves began with Buddhist monks. The monks would drink tea to stay awake during long hours of meditation. While meditating and looking into the bottom of an empty tea cup, the monks noticed patterns or symbols and began to “read” tea leaves.

The practice continued through the years and after tea was introduced to Europe, in the 1700’s, high tea in the afternoon, followed by tea parties and reading tea leaves became very popular.

In April, 2008, Rosie Gordon Wallace, Diaspora Vibe Gallery artists including Danny Ramiriez, Rodney Jackson, Erman Gonzalez, Alejandro Contreras, Gordon Myers and I, to name a few, were hosted by Deborah Jack and local artists, Lucinda Audain, Norma Trimborn and others in St. Maarten for the Second International Artists Biennial. Several artists and scholars were also invited, including Irene Peterson of Aruba, Jennifer Schmidt of Curacao, Christopher Cozier of Trinidad and last but not least, Carol Campbell of Jamaica. Imagine my delightful surprise when I was informed that Carol and I would be roommates for a few days !!!

Our artwork was installed at The Cultural Center with assistance by its artist/director Youmay Dormay with artwork by local artists. The opening and workshops on the following days were well attended and enjoyed by all.

Every evening, we would end the day with a group dinner with conversations reviewing the daily events, anticipating the next day, catching up with friends that we hadn’t seen or connecting with new friends we had just met. These evenings were as important as the artwork, the exhibits and workshops during the Biennial.

One evening, we decided to dine in the Chinese resaurant across the street from the hotel, The Prasangrahm or the former Govenor’s Palace. We sat at a large round table, about 12 of us, ordered many different dishes and had a delicious dinner. Of course, Chinese tea was served with the meal. Carol and I were seated next to each other. After dinner and finishing our tea, we noticed the loose tea leaves at the bottom of our cups and indulged in an attempt at tasseography !!! Carol looked at my tea leaves and if I remember correctly, she saw a flying figure. Alright, I thought, I always wanted to fly ! I looked at Carol’s tea leaves and saw a floral pattern, something more decorative than figurative. Carol thought that was agreeable. The evening continued and we enjoyed a few more readings around the table.

The art of tasseography is still practiced widely and taken quite seriously by its followers, using special teas, cups and study of its philosophy. For me, it is another form of meditation, a moment of reflection and insight inspired by a visual form. It is similar to looking at clouds in the sky, at trees and rock formations in nature or even ink blots. A form inspires a thought.

READING TEA LEAVES is a series of 6 canvases, 5” in diameter, painted, beaded and stitched. Three of them suggest green tea with symbols of a spiral or creativity, a horse shoe or good luck and a wavy line or water or purification. Three of them suggest black tea with symbols of a circle with a dot in the center or the sun or energy, diagonal lines or travel and a crescent moon or receptivity.

Many thanks to Carol Campbell, Diane Wright and Revolution Gallery for continuing the tradition of Tea, Glorious Tea. This is the third time that I have participated in this exhibit with special thanks to Rosie Gordon Wallace and Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, Florida.

--Jean Chiang, c.2009


No comments: