Refreshing “Art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony” exhibit opens in McCabe

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

On March 1st, the exhibit “Crafting Nature: The Art of Japanese Tea Ceremony” opened in the front lobby of McCabe Library. Professor Tomoko Sakomura is currently teaching a class by the same name, and this exhibit was the midterm project for her students, who have “put their knowledge into actual practice” by reinterpreting the traditional ceremony using everyday objects.

The class assignment dovetailed neatly with the work of Professor Syd Carpenter’s class “The Potter’s Wheel,” for which, Sakomura explained, “the first month’s assignment was to make a lot of tea bowls.” These tea bowls have been given names and incorporated into the different interpretations of the tea ceremony.

One group made a screen that hangs from the second floor part of their ceremony; Bryn Mawr freshman Arianae Tsavaris explained that it was meant as a “kakemono,” a scroll painting that would traditionally hang in a Japanese tea house. Her group “wanted to show the transition from winter to spring with vibrance and elegance,” and their interpretation is a joy to look at.

Other groups were similarly creative. Anna Ghublikian ’08, whose group created a beach-themed tea ceremony, “wanted to make the ceremony accessible to a younger and Western audience while still adhering to the things that make it so special,” and Rory Sykes ’08 said that her group was “going for the four elements.”

The students’ interpretations are exhibited alongside traditional utensils on loan from Urasenke La Salle, a group at La Salle University devoted to the art of the Japanese tea ceremony. Urasenke La Salle is also co-sponsoring the events that accompany the exhibit, including a lecture on March 16th and a tea demonstration by Urasenke La Salle’s Morgan Beard on March 23rd with tea and sweets for all.