A Sip of Tea (Art)

Naomi Kasumi creates masterful art pieces out of unusual materials

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Chris Joseph Taylor

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Who She Is

Naomi Kasumi

What She Does

An accomplished artist and an associate professor in Fine Arts, where she teaches digital design.

Work of Art

For her latest art installation, MEM: memory•memorial no.7 scriptorium, Kasumi went with what to some may seem an unlikely artistic medium—used, recycled tea bags. Nearly 3,000 tea bags—of some 3,500 collected—were dried and stitched by hand in a tapestry- like fashion. The small squares are inscribed with Japanese calligraphy and scriptures, with some of the panels featuring objects found in nature. A coating of beeswax, which casts a golden light, covers the floating artwork.

Where It's At

MEM: memory•memorial no.7 scriptorium continues its months- long run at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. The art installation has exhibited in Nagano and Osaka, Japan, Chicago and Eugene, Ore., among other cities.

Wow, That's a Lot of Tea ... and Time

Kasumi began collecting the tea bags—a two-year process that involved plenty of tea drinking for herself, friends, colleagues and even strangers—even before she knew how they would factor into her latest work. Kasumi gives special thanks to colleague Sharon Suh, associate professor of theology and religious studies, who was a great collaborator and supporter throughout the process.

Why Tea Bags

The inspiration for this art installation came from Kasumi’s own tea ritual that she does every night. It’s also in line with her research as a scholar, which focuses on ritualistic behavior and the ritualistic process she employs when making art. “For a long time, I have made handmade objects spontaneously and obsessively. I call it ‘ritual.’ Going through my ritual process of making art is my healing process.”



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