Teapot and Cup

Media - 2021.75A-C - SAAM-2021.75A-C_1 - 143068
Copied Homei Iseyama, Teapot and Cup, 1939-1945, slate stone, teapot (A): 3 346 785 in. lid (B): 1 382 582 12 in. teapot and lid: 4 586 785 in. cup ©: 1 142 in., Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist’s family, 2021.75A-C

Artwork Details

Teapot and Cup
Not on view
teapot (A): 3 346 785 in. lid (B): 1 382 582 12 in. teapot and lid: 4 586 785 in. cup ©: 1 142 in.
Credit Line
Gift of the artist’s family
Mediums Description
slate stone
  • Object — other — dish
Object Number

Artwork Description

Homei Iseyama adorned this teapot with pomegranates and leaves that recall his work as a gardener in California when he dreamed of becoming an artist. In 1942, Iseyama was incarcerated at the Topaz Detention Center in Utah, among 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly moved during World War II as part of the federal government’s Executive Order 9066.

While in these bleak incarceration camps, Iseyama and others used scraps and found materials, like this piece of slate, to make tools, teapots, furniture, decor, toys, games, instruments, and more. Through these objects, they endeavored to recreate the comforts of home, which helped many endure emotional trauma. Iseyama’s carved teapot is an example of gaman, the Japanese word that means to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World, 2022