Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Koi Junk Teapot

Photo: Gavin Ashworth, NY

Koi Junk Teapot


Michelle Erickson

American, born 1960

Past and present mingle in Michelle Erickson’s sculptural teapot. Her vision of Asian porcelain and an English teapot excavated from an ancient shipwreck evoke a time when Chinese junks plied inter-coastal Asian waters and the ships of European East India Companies sailed the seas loaded with precious cargoes of silks, tea, spices and ceramics. Erickson’s twenty-five year practice in experimental archeology, rediscovering early ceramic techniques and forms, accounts for her brilliant ability to create a pectin shell-shaped, agateware teapot in multi-layered clays. This clay technique originated in 8th-century China and was adopted by potters in 18th-century Staffordshire, England, where similar teapots were created.

Her teapot and porcelain tea wares emerge into the historical “now” encrusted with marine life and bearing Chinese characters on the cups and a digital decal trademark on the back: the ubiquitous “Made in China.”
Porcelain, colored earthenware agate, indigenous clays
12 1/2 x 11 in.
Howard Kottler Endowment for Ceramic Art
Provenance: Michelle Erickson Pottery, Inc., Hampton, Virginia; purchased from the artist by Seattle Art Museum, 2011
Photo: Gavin Ashworth, NY
Not currently on view


Published References"Michele Erickson trailer" on YouTube (, 2015, 0:48-0:52

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

Learn more about Equity at SAM