Community Tea Project

My art investigates the nature of relationship -- to home, objects, place, history, family, and community. I am concerned with how we capture a moment and how memory is held. Relationships are nurtured with sharing and interacting.

I am intrigued by the way we interact with and within the spaces we inhabit, and how these spaces affect our view of the world at large. The correspondence practice is beautiful because the ephemeral nature of the exchange can not be documented or recorded. I work with book arts, mail arts, ceramics, found objects, and other media. I often experiment in new ways to tell a story or create something that appeals to a different sense. Because of the intimate and changing nature of home, there is an intersection where my practice meets home, my correspondence, and books.

I come from a long history of letter writers. Since I was young, I have tried to push the limits of what can be exchanged through the mail. For me, the magic of the correspondence is not just what goes through the mail but the relationship that is built and the journey that takes place between the two destinations. Often I create and mail something that is a gift only to be shared with the recipient. It could be a card I letter-pressed to mark a certain day of importance or a watercolor painting of a particular image. It is the intimate space between myself and the recipient that I am honoring with these works.

With my art, I try to make small and quiet spaces for enjoying moments away from the hectic world that exists outside. I honor connections and wisdom that have been shared with me and the intimacy that can exist even across vast distances. I hope to raise questions about where we can find comfort or healing, and how we can find common ground despite our many differences.

Technical Overview
For the past two years, I have been working on a project that creates community through the mail. I created a collection of small mailable ceramic tea pots and asked the recipients to all drink the tea at the same time. I asked each person to send back some sort of response. I did not ask for anything specific because I wanted to see which part of the project had an impact on the individual. I created a book that now houses all of the responses that have come back to me in the form of postcards, illustrations, photographs, stories, and poems. With each response, I have the photograph of the box with the teapot that was sent. For me, the process of preparing the teapot for the journey was an essential part of the project.

I received a variety of responses from my tea project. Many people chose to respond to the fact that they were part of a group project. One mentioned that it ended up being a lonely experience. Some brought their teapot to work so they could fit it into their everyday lives. Many families included their children in their tea drinking.

In addition to the book, I created a web site that contains all of the responses, and I invited the participants and others to see who else participated in the project. This project is as much about time as it is about community, and I hope I can continue it for a long time. No part of this project or process can be rushed, and I find that stopping and consciously enjoying a moment becomes more and more rare.

Contact
Mare Dianora
dianoram (at) goddard.edu