Award-winning artist Ann Laser first got the idea of incorporating teabags into her mixed-media fine art in 2013, at her home in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
An avid tea drinker who puts the kettle on first thing each day, Laser has a morning ritual.
"I look out the windows at the blue New Mexico sky and take my first taste of tea and it gives me a great way to be peaceful and serene, and to connect with the environment surrounding me and with myself."
One morning in her adobe casita while sipping her tea, Laser noticed the beautiful colors of her tea bag as it dried. "The stain became a memory of a soft caramel mixed with a sharper vanilla cream color," she describes.
These subtle colors now pervade her mixed-media teabag art, which is composed with a symmetry likewise expressing a sense of tranquility and harmony. "The artworks have a sense of order to them that communicates that sense of peace," notes Laser. Teabags, tea leaves, and paint all contribute to her palette, with the tea artifacts remaining visible during the layering process.
Laser prefers black teas like English Breakfast, which she drinks with milk, and green teas, which she flavors with agave. She's found that teabags containing pomegranate and red zinger are standouts in her artwork, bleeding into a soft magenta color.
Not only does Laser make artwork from her own dried teabags, but she has created The Teabag Project with its own Facebook page. This project has reached thousands of tea drinkers who have responded to her request to send their dried teabags to be used in her art, thus connecting them all in a collaborative project. Laser is using the teabags for large installation pieces, including a 10-foot by 5.5-foot piece comprised of over 2,000 teabags. "Tea represents peacefulness and connection for me, and these artworks can hopefully evoke that essence, whether on display in homes, offices, or public spaces," intends Laser. "The Teabag Project demonstrates how beauty can be found in small, ordinary objects and acts of life that span across cultures, connecting us all. The art highlights how the lowly teabag can be elevated to the status of fine art."
Laser’s art conveys the meditative aspect of tea culture. "Tea has a gentler flavor and attitude than coffee," she suggests. "That pervading calm lingers in the artwork."
Calling for Stash Tea Bags
How can you help a teabag become a piece of art? You can be a part of this unique collaborative art project by joining Ann’s Teabag Project team. After you have enjoyed your Stash Tea, please save your used teabags for a week, let them dry, then send the dried teabags to Ann. They will be used to create original teabag art for home, office, business and public spaces. Cutoff date for sending your teabags is the first week of September.
Send teabags to:
Ann Laser Teabag Project
PO Box 2769
Santa Fe, NM 87504-2769
About Ann Laser
Painter and printmaker Ann Laser discovered her passion for art after raising a family and spending 20-plus years as a psychotherapist. A native Arkansan, she attended the University of Arkansas, where she was first exposed to formal art classes and influenced by Impressionist masters like Matisse, Monet, and Cézanne. She took her first printmaking workshop from master printer Ron Pokrasso, and fell in love with monotype. This unique process of printmaking, which produces one-of-a-kind works of art on paper, fascinated her.
Now based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Laser specializes in contemplative mixed-media artworks and printmaking. Through the use of color, form, and layering, her work has grown to reflect a push-pull tension between the seen and unseen, surface and depth, conscious and unconscious. There is an upfront, direct quality in the work that is combined with the suggestion of mysteries hidden within dimensions below the surface.
Her tea-inspired artworks incorporating teabags and tea leaves into her palette have been exhibited in galleries all over the US, including at ViVO Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico; M2 Gallery, Blue Moon Gallery, and Sara Howell Gallery, all in Arkansas; Harrington Brown Gallery in Memphis, Tennessee; and Nault Fine Art in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; as well as in Japan at Watanabe Fine Art Gallery. Her artwork is part of the permanent state capitol collection in Little Rock, Arkansas, and will be seen in a show entitled "Alchemy of Decay" at the state capitol in Santa Fe in fall 2016.