Since 2007 Michele Brody has been serving tea to the public through the interactive community-based project Reflections in Tea. The ritual performance of preparing loose-leaf tea within special paper filters is shared with individuals and groups. The participants’ conversations are then preserved by being transcribed onto the stained tea bags that have been dried and flattened, culminating in the creation of an ever-growing set of fluttering paper quilts. From afar these quilts form an overall composition of a craggy mountain range reminiscent of the landscapes where tea grows, while when read up close reveal an array of hand written stories, poetry, and drawings inspired by tea.
Through the experience of reading participants’ stories, Reflections in Tea reflects back to the public both a visual and visceral experience of their collective memories and experiences. The variety of voices, languages, penmanship, drawings, and choices of tea come together to create a unifying expression of the diversity that holds communities together.
Reflections in Tea represents a blending of the arts with nutrition, tea and community. For the past 2 years Brody has been regularly serving tea to seniors at the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council and at the Andrew Freedman Home, as well as during The Bronx Museum of the Arts' Boogie on the Boulevard event through the production of multi-media poetry events and creative meal pairings called CommuniTeas. Her programs bring together a wide range of artists with an intergenerational community to share a tea, meal, and their stories. Throughout her series of CommuniTea events Brody has focused on helping New Yorkers from the South and Mid-Bronx come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods through creative nutritional programming.
In conjunction with this exhibit will be the sale of Brody's new book Two Years of Tea in The Bronx, which documents her participants' tea stories since moving to The Bronx. Concurrently there will be a series of scheduled "Tea Times" to share a tea individually and as a group with the artist along with an opportunity to add your own stories to Brody's ever growing quilt mural.