Early Tea: The Artwork of Norbert Marszalek

1_Feature_Marszalek Still Life with Objects, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, 2016 | © Norbert Marszalek

Whether highly designed or purely utilitarian, there is no denying the simple elegance and beauty of teacups and teapots. Drinking tea goes back thousands of years. Its history is complicated and spreads across multiple cultures. Tea ceremonies, customs, and rituals arose where tea vessels play an important and necessary role. Asian tea ceremonies and customs contain an adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday life.1 Europeans engage in rituals of high tea or afternoon tea, while the American tea culture can trace its roots back to the Dutch settlers.

My mother introduced me to the culture of tea-drinking while I was still a very young boy. A fond memory is having tea in the morning before school, a little tradition I called “early tea.” All this led to my love and appreciation of teacups and teapots—their styles, shapes, and designs. It goes beyond that however, these objects reflect the passing of time. Some joyful and some difficult. And so, we create our own rituals to process the events of daily life.

1 Okakura Kakuz, The Book of Tea (New York: Sheba Blake Publishing, 2013)

Arrangement with Two Teacups, oil on canvas, 14″ x 18″, 2017 | © Norbert Marszalek
Blue Tea, oil on canvas, 10″ x 10″, 2016. Private Collection | © Norbert Marszalek
Clear Glass Teacup, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″, 2016. Collection of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater | © Norbert Marszalek
Teapot, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″, 2016. Collection of the Cedar Rapids Musuem of Art | © Norbert Marszalek
Collage 4, collage, color pencil, charcoal, and graphite on Arches Paper, 11″ x 15″, 2016 | © Norbert Marszalek
Collage 1, collage, color pencil, and graphite on Arches Paper, 11″ x 15″, 2016 | © Norbert Marszalek
Black and White Totem, chair, teacups, saucers, billiard ball, spray paint, epoxy, 21” x 21.5” x 28.5”, 2017 | © Norbert Marszalek
Form No. 24, teacup, saucer, felt, embroidery thread, 5.25” x 2.5”, 2017 | © Norbert Marszalek
Form No. 12, teacup, saucer, railroad spike, epoxy, 5.25” x 7”, 2017 | © Norbert Marszalek



Norbert Marszalek is an artist, writer, and co-founder of Neoteric Art, an online art magazine. He was born in Chicago and received a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern Illinois University and has also studied at the American Academy of Art and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

His paintings, works on paper, and sculpture have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States, including the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles; the Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque; the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago. Marszalek also has work in numerous permanent collections including the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Iowa.