Arthur Tress – Teapot Opera
It’s not lost on me as we near the end of each semester and I ask my students to design, create and complete yet another final project, (after the designing, creating and completing of several smaller projects throughout the semester) just how tough it is for me to be asking that. On the other side of the table, I sit free from the creative confines of coursework, creating at my own pace; meandering through the stuff of life, looking around slowly, breaking for lunch.
I leave many of my final projects open-ended, allowing students to shape and direct it how they see fit. Before they get to work they must craft a short paper describing their idea and explaining how they will physically get to project fruition. The question always comes, most times as a statement: “I don’t know what to take pictures of.”
I help as best I can, prodding, asking leading questions, brainstorming with them. The semester only has 4 weeks to go, we cannot wait for inspiration to strike, we need to see this through.
Which isn’t to say I don’t have this thought myself at times, see:”breaking for lunch” above, but one thing I always try to stress to my students (and to myself), is that there is always something to take pictures of.
In light of this I would like to share a photographic series I only just became aware of. The Teapot Opera, published in 1988, is artist Arthur Tress’ exploration of narrative using a small children’s toy theater (think something like a doll house – but instead this is a theater), and found objects and images he collects and arranges. The journey takes you from the birth of the planets, all the way to inevitable death.
The parts here are simple, the outcome is magic.
So you say, don’t have anything to take pictures of, write about, paint, or print? I say this: Go to your junk drawer, your basement, your bedroom floor – inspiration is everywhere, it just takes some looking to find it.
Before you go though, The Teapot Opera: