Tea Secrets, 2003

Saltworks Gallery, Project Room, Atlanta GA

One of my fondest memories from childhood is waking for school, so early that it was still dark out, and hearing the sound of my mother and grandmother stirring their teacups… the spoon clinking on ceramic in that erratic rhythm. It holds such comfort for me, a comfort that has not waned even as I listen to it daily in my own morning tea.

Every morning, Lipton, three spoons of sugar, a little bit of milk. Mom took more sugar than milk, grandma more milk than sugar. I remember my mom saying that the Irish drank tea and the English drank coffee, so in my childhood logic, this drink was an act of patriotism for Ireland. In my adult logic, I’m not sure how one may perceive that the English do not drink tea, but I equate the idea to a desperate attempt to relate to an identity, a heritage, however factually flawed. I see in this statement the entire basis for my artistic pursuits.

Each vial contains the contents of exactly one tea bag. The bag is then used as a photographic medium. The identity of the woman pictured is a mystery, like most of my ancestors, a found negative who has been assigned a story. The images reach out to the viewer in this small room, as they contemplate my science behind familial myth-making.

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