Amber Ginsburg & Aaron Hughes

Photo by Louisa Chu

Project Title: The Tea Project

Amber Ginsburg and Aaron Hughes work collaboratively to uncover moments of beauty, poetics, and shared humanity within little known military histories. Taking as their starting point a curious love story, a Guantanamo Bay guard who fell in love with the drawings on the Styrofoam cups carved by detainees, The Tea Project is an ongoing series of exhibitions and performances that offers counter-narratives to disrupt the numbing effects of war and detention. Through The Tea Project, they create scenarios that allow audiences a role in telling the story of our current involvement in war, torture, and the violation of human rights.

They will use the time at HCL’s Sponsored Projects Program as a collaborative laboratory, testing and working towards a large scale multi-media exhibition that includes 779 labeled and carved porcelain cast Styrofoam cups, one for every Guantanamo Bay detainee. They will use  HCL as a hub of activity and exploration through draw-ins, a mini-conference and narrative collection over tea. Experimentation with the complex narratives of detainment will include: collecting personal tea stories and instructions for preparing and serving tea from the diaspora of the 48 countries represented in Guantanamo; working with the Center for Constitutional Rights to write letters to the 155 detainees still in Guantanamo; and visually mapping and publishing the data and narratives we collect.

About the Artists: Amber Ginsburg & Aaron Hughes

Amber Ginsburg is an artist, editor, writer and professor at the University of Chicago.  Together with collaborators, Amber creates site-generated projects and social sculpture that insert historical scenarios into present day situations. Her background in craft orients her projects towards the continuities and ruptures in material, social, and utopic histories. Her work engages objects as collaborators, agent-provocateurs and narrative instigators.

Her research-based multimedia installations have been shown in museums and galleries including: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, MN; The Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburg, PA; World Ceramic Biennale, Korea; KunstTREFFpunkt, Darmstadt, Germany; Artsonje, Seoul, Korea; Raid Projects, Los Angles, CA and the Bristol Biennial, England. Additionally, Amber is an editor of, an iterative online journal of arts, narrative and poetry.

Aaron Hughes is an artist, teacher, organizer, and Iraq War veteran, whose work seeks out poetics, connections, and moments of beauty, in order to in order to construct new languages and meanings out of personal and collective traumas. He uses these new languages and meanings to create projects that attempt to de-construct systems of dehumanization and oppression.

He works with a variety of art, veteran, and activist organizations and projects including: Warrior Writers Project, The Dirty Canteen, The National Veterans Art Museum, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and The Center for Artistic Activism. Additionally, he has shown his work throughout the United States and internationally in museums and galleries to include: The Maruki Gallery, Tokyo, School of Visual Arts Museum, New York, Open Engagement, Portland, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Memphis School of Art, Memphis, The Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, among other locations.