Ceramic art pieces in the “Tea and Cookies: 17th Biennial Teapot Exhibition” at Craft Alliance. Part 1. Conventional Teapots.

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then like the post, and also like my Facebook page.      There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Venue


The “Tea and Cookies: 17th Biennial Teapot Exhibition” took place from January 10 through February 23, 2020 in the gallery of the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design in University City, Missouri.





The Call for Entry

This was an invitational exhibit.  Craft Alliance had this exhibit statement: ”

Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design is proud to present Tea and Cookies: 17th Biennial Teapot Exhibition.  Having tea and cookies is a comfort and a custom many of us share in our daily lives. In this exhibition, artists were challenged to think about this pairing and communicate how they could create a conversation between the two objects. This pairing becomes an investigation around the idea of the container, both in construction and what it means to us culturally.  In Britain they have tea and biscuits, but here in America, we talk about the union of a warm beverage with a delicious cookie. We could say that this is essentially the same idea, but with different socially economic status attached to it. Actually the cookie jar is an iteration of the biscuit barrel, a British container of biscuits. As this jar form was introduced to the States and Canada, it took on the name, “Cookie Jar”.

Each artist exhibits a teapot and a container displaying the act of engagement with the interaction of the objects themselves. All the teapots and cookie jar selected are ceramic and are either functional or simply decorative. For over two decades Craft Alliance has brought the biennial teapot show to the community and with Tea and Cookies hopes to bring the viewer a sense of wonderment and delight, maybe even bringing up fond memories of their favorite tea and cookies moments. ”

The Ceramic Art Pieces

The “conventional” teapots in part 1 represent teapots with a round body, and with the usual placement of the spout and the handle.

“Gold bees Cookie Jar and Teapot” by Melissa Mencini
“Water Etched Lidded Jar and Teapot” by Melissa Mencini

Melissa’s statement for her pottery work reads:”

I am interested in the subtlety within form, obvious function and the intimate moment of a pot being used. I prefer to make smaller objects that one would tend to hold close, increasing the users understanding and furthering the investigation of the form. The exploration of these concepts keeps me pushing the definition of my work.

Surface also plays a very important role for me. I like to play with images within popular culture to push the idea away from the familiar form to challenge the users expectations of visual and literal interaction of objects. I like for the surface to come alive through use and to watch as those discoveries are made. It all becomes very playful communication: almost a game of flirting between the form, surface and the user.”  Check out her website for more of her work.


“Hiking Jar and Creature Teapot” by Molly Ann Bishop

Molly’s statement reads:”I recount my personal history, desires, and fears through drawings. Images become stylized and personal through my lens. I am interested in giving my drawings and words a place to live that provides more life than a piece of paper. For the past five years, that place has primarily been handbuilt, earthenware pots. Working with functional forms allows the drawing to exist in someone’s home in a casual way, inserting my world into her everyday life subtly, under her eggs in the morning, or adorning her cup of tea. My work is full of characters that are stand-ins for me and the people around me. They are the result of current pop culture obsessions, time spent in the natural world, research of historical vessels, and respect for my favorite artists, named or unknown, in the history of art. I am always thinking of ideas of wild and tame, the search for security in nature, and the nuances of femininity. I’m interested in straddling the line between funny and sad. Handbuilding means I don’t use the pottery wheel and the pieces show their imperfections, adding to the intimate, humble, and secret-sharing experience of my work.”  Check out her website for the rest of her work.


“Clematis teapot” by Yoko Sekino-Bove
“Fine Your Fortune Cookie jar” by Yoko Sekino-Bove


Check out her other works on her website.  She has statements for each group of her pieces, but I didn’t see anything there for the exhibit pieces.







“Cookie Jar and Teapot” by Liz Quackenbush

Liz’s statement reads:”

After many years of looking outward to other traditions for artistic inspiration, I started responding directly to my own life and environment. Spending time each summer living in the green hills of Vermont and at the Jersey shore, has had a profound effect on my work. Seeking to seduce the user with the dynamic natural charm of earthenware, my work romanticizes the creepy-crawly beauty of the great outdoors. Patterns of animal and reptile skins inspire my surface decoration decisions. The forms of these creatures give birth to my pottery forms. For example, toads found underneath rocks by my seven-year-old son inspire my butter dishes, while banana slugs surrounding our picnic blanket in the Redwood Forest of California inspire my serving dishes.

My goal in creating ceramic work is to bridge the divide between elegant china and down to earth pottery. I deliberately leave clay surfaces irregular so that they look handled and handlable. I want my pottery to invite use, while also subverting contemporary “run of the mill” preconceptions of what pottery is, can, and should be. As I seek to develop my own “garden of earthly delights” motif, I draw inspiration from the tradition of personal intimation in ceramic form and decoration that has been handed down, quite literally, through the ages.”  Check out the rest of her work on her website.


“Bulbous Red” by Fung Choo

His statement reads:”For more than ten years my work has been focused on Miniature Teapots. The teapot form continues to challenge and fascinate me. The work shown in this gallery is the result of over a decade of evolution in color, design and form. I invite you into that place.  I feel blessed to be able to pursue the life of a potter — especially when it requires poking the sleeping tiger…”  For more of his works check out his website.





“Saddleback Cookie Jar and Saddleback Teapot and Saddleback Mugs” by Kristen Muller


Check out the rest of her work on her website.  I couldn’t find a statement there.








“Grandma’s House Teapot” by Jessica Brandl

Jessica says this about herself:” a native Midwesterner, works in ceramics, drawing and, painting.
Set in landscapes with looming architecture, turbulent skies, and misplaced objects, Brandl’s work exposes historical and eccentric places engulfed in psychological scenarios – both sinister and sublime. Surprising spatial arrangements and disjunctive scale shifts support a voyeuristic sense of seeing things from the inside out. Her current work serve as pointed souvenirs of history and the path to American-ness.”  Check out the rest of her work on her website.



“Un-becoming” by Andrea Moon

Andrea’s statement at her the Red Lodge Clay Center page reads:”I make sculptures that confront personal transitions, reminisce vulnerable layers, and challenge structure. Constantly striving to maintain a balance in change and patience among apprehension, I use the figure as a vessel to visually state control contradicted by precariousness. Slight bends or subtle gestures act as small ways to express a timid strength. I create these structures embodying negative space to question emptiness and fulfillment simultaneously� a fulfillment of balance and order, but also an emptiness of ironic volume.   Building sculptures with multiple clay parts to create volume, form, and balance I layer basic foundation principles of repetitive textures. I use the raw surface of clay obsessively to preserve stability and attention to the importance of structure in my life. As I create everyday, thoughts constantly pursue me on regulation of self, structure among weakness, and thickness between layers. My process of making has become a set of conceptual principles that mirror basic techniques of building with clay.”  For more of her works visit her website.


“Jar and Teapot” by Ted Neal

Ted’s statement from his Red Lodge Clay Center page reads:”The current sociopolitical and economic environment has led me toward exploring consumption and the use of natural resources as themes in my work. I choose the ceramic vessel as a means to marry industrial form, contemporary iconographic symbols with my thoughts about our consumer culture. I enjoy the interplay of roles between the utilitarian form as an object for eating and that of a conceptual vehicle for expression about global consumption. The objects serve as subtle reminders of the true cost of the things that we use.  The recent resurgence of environmental discussion in the public domain seems to me more directly related to the increase in out of pocket expense than sincere concern. Less apparent than personal monetary costs is awareness of the environmental costs associated with the production, processing, shipping and pollution caused by overuse of natural resources. Our patterns of consumption are so ingrained that change seems difficult and associated problems feel insurmountable. Often we seek to disconnect ourselves from the negative aspects of our behavior but it is my hope that this work prompts viewers to think about such issues in relation to their own lives.  For more of his work visit his website.


“Critique Lidded Jar and Critique Teapot” by Eric Pardue

Here is Eric’s statement from his Clay Sudio page:” “These narratives may refer to a specific current situation, past experience, a specific song lyric, or passages from books. Although the references I make are personal and come from my experiences, I do intend for the viewer to build on my intentions with their own ideas and to develop their own story as they interact with the piece.”

For more of his work check out his Facebook page.





“Cookie Jar and Teapot” by Mark Arnold

Mark’s statement reads:”

Before my ceramics practices I rode BMX bikes and this has had a strong influence on my work today. I am currently exploring repetition and patterns from my past bike riding experience and how this relationship can help determine subtle variations of form and surface. The jumps I built in the woods were similar to the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. The softness of nature interacting with the strong geometric forms is relevant in each piece.       Influences from architecture and abstract expressionism are infused into my utilitarian pottery in a simplified manner. Balance in the surface design of each piece abstracts imagery much like Richard Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” series, while leaving subtle hints that leave the viewer interested but not overwhelmed. Wheel thrown and hand built elements create geometric forms, while color is added so that each piece can resemble a 3-dimensional painting. The color palette is simple and muted, mostly white with one color plus the utilization of the red clay body. Terra sigillata brings out the slightly distressed surfaces, reminiscent of brick, wood, and stone, using a black wash to highlight these imperfections. Although individual pieces can stand alone, when they are grouped together they can reference a cityscape or skyline.  For more of his work check out his web site.

“Cookie Jar and Teapot” by Bede Clarke

Bede writes on his page at Northern Clay Center:” “It seems natural that given a restless spirit and a creative discipline one should get into a lot of mischief.  I guess I don’t separate pots by how they were fired or made, but by the feeling they occupy — their ‘being’.  I am on friendly terms with wood kilns and electric kilns, high fire and low fire.  No matter the technique, it really only holds merit if it leads to ‘good’ pots, and for me good pots are not defined by a technique, but most often by a healthy balance of energy/wildness and restraint/firmness.  I have always thought pots are a lot like people.”  Check out more of his works at his website.


“Cookie Jar and Teapot” by Jeff Kleckner

Jeff’s statement on his The Real Mother Goose page reads:”

I suspect what keeps me engaged in the making of pots is the rich, complex process of ceramics. The materials, kilns, firings, and the rhythm of the studio have become a comfortable part of my life, almost akin to a refuge. I tend to make complex pots, not understated in form or surface. An interplay between shape and decoration creates a visual tension which I find compelling. By thinking of pottery as an avenue to explore color, line, surface and form, I have discovered a wellspring of inexhaustible creative opportunities.”  Check out more of his works at his Instagram profile.





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