Fresh Takes by Steven – “A Traditional Tale”
Hi there! I’m Steven and I am currently interning here at the Newark Museum. I will be here throughout the summer giving you my take on the different works of art, as well as a peek into some great events and happenings.
There are times I wish that I was born in a different time period. The allure of wielding a katana while wearing samurai armor; of the battlefields and warring eras along with the glory that came from an honorable life in Japan long ago; the simple and romanticized life of the samurai has always captured my attention. That being said, I find everything inspired by those time periods is worth experiencing. The teapot Behind Quiet Veils of the Blue Willow, created in 2000 by artist Red Weldon Sandlin, incorporates a story of star-crossed lovers — an idea that we’ve all heard about — that originated in the 1700s by Josiah Spode in order to market his mass-produced imitation tableware by illustrating traditional Chinese customs. Romanticized views of ancient Chinese legends, such as the story of Spode, grabbed the attention of Westerners and created a market for blue and white porcelain especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. Sandlin uses this story to not only incorporate Chinese customs, but also to instill the notion that change is inevitable.
The illustrations on this teapot come from the above-mentioned story, the story of the Blue Willow. The star-crossed lovers being from different social classes were not allowed to be together, so they hid. Their secret meetings under a willow tree kept them alive and more importantly, near each other. As they saw no end to their forced separation, they did something that is more common today — they eloped, in order to live together happily. This act of defiance was the beginning of change for the couple. Followed by more change the couple achieved what they always wanted, eternity together. They received this gift from their gods by being turned into doves and allowed eternal lives at their willow tree.
– Steven – Marketing Intern