Shrew Tea Party I & II
In Dec 2021, I completed a body of work commemorating Alaskan animals impacted by house cat predation. While creating this work, I became enamored with the ferocity of the little-seen shrew. During a conversation with Link Olson, Curator of Mammals at UA Museum of the North, I learned about voles and shrews, their role in the boreal forest, and how scientists study them. The pit-fall traps that mammalogists use to collect shrews directly inspired the “Shrew Tea Party.” Shews are generally solitary animals and will fight most animals that come in their path. So if two shrews end up in one trap, one will often kill the other. I envisioned a scene of a shrew tea party; individually the shrews are happily going about their business, but if they were to come together (as depicted on my teapot) they would engage in a savage battle to the death, spilling tea everywhere…
My work is often silly and lighthearted, but my intention is to draw attention to those smaller animals that often get overlooked in the larger narrative of the forest. We may not see them often or find them as majestic, but they still play an important role in the environment.
Teresa Shannon is a ceramic artist living in Fairbanks, AK. Her work includes sculptural and utilitarian pottery inspired by small animals and dinosaurs. Nostalgic and lighthearted, Teresa’s work commemorates quiet moments at home and in nature. Her work has been exhibited across Alaska and throughout the country. She earned an MFA from Wichita State University and a BFA from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and has led workshops and taught ceramics at various locations around the country. She currently teaches pottery and ceramic materials classes at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.