His teapots may be tiny, but there was nothing small about the award Fong Choo won on Sunday for his miniature porcelain creations.
Choo, a Louisville-based studio potter and adjunct professor, won the Best of Show award and $3,000 at this year’s Art on the Square in downtown Belleville for his miniature porcelain teapots. Choo says his Chinese heritage and the tradition of Yixing pottery — named for its origins in eastern China — inspire his work.
A native of Singapore, Choo came to the United States to study ceramics. He started a one-person studio and began experimenting with making the miniature teapots. They were crude at first, Choo said, but the little teapots eventually morphed into colorful creations the artist likens to jewels. He has been making the teapots for more than 20 years.
Choo said he is “tickled” to have won Best of Show in the face of “a lot of competition.”
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“When you win, it’s a really nice honor,” Choo said. “Especially when you’re among your peers.”
Lately, Choo said he has shifted from making miniature teapots to crafting larger pieces.
“Hopefully in the future you’ll be seeing these pieces grow up larger and larger,” Choo said. “I’m hoping for a six-foot tall piece by the time I’m done with this project.”
Choo is an adjunct professor at Bellarmine University in Kentucky. He attended college in North Carolina and did his graduate work at the University of Louisville. He won Best of Show at the 2016 Midwest Salute to the Arts Festival in Fairview Heights.
Here’s a list of the other winners at this year’s Art on the Square:
Art on the Square Awards
▪ Best of Show: Fong Choo, Clay, $3,000
▪ Ed and Helen Karasek Purchase Award: Kevin Luebbers, Fine Craft, $1,500
▪ Joan Voss Renner Purchase Award: Z. L. Feng, Watercolor, $2,000
▪ Mayor’s Choice Purchase Award: Mark Stephenson, Mixed Media, $1,000
▪ Barb King Jewelry Award: Sandy Murphy, Jewelry, $500
▪ Rotary Club of Belleville Purchase Award: Glenn Lewis, Photo, $1,000
Best of Category Awards
▪ Clay: Jennifer McCurdy, $1,500
▪ Digital/Graphic Design: John Leben, $1,500
▪ Drawing/Printmaking: Marina Terauds, $1,500
▪ Fine Craft: Amy Gillespie, $1,500
▪ Glass: Mark Sudduth, $1,500
▪ Jewelry: Wendy Newman, $1,500
▪ Mixed Media: Suzy Scarborough, $1,500
▪ Oil and Acrylic: David Skinner, $1,500
▪ Photography: Igor Menaker, $1,500
▪ Sculpture: Kimberly Willcox, $1,500
▪ Watercolor: Scott Hartley, $1,500
▪ Wood: Matthew Hatala, $1,500
Award of Excellence (non-specific category)
▪ Oil & Acrylic: Shawn Cornell, $500
▪ Glass: Tony Cray, $500
▪ Watercolor: David Dallison, $500
▪ Fine Craft: Rebecca Hungerford, $500
▪ Wood: Michael Mode, $500
▪ Wood: Steven Potts, $500
▪ Clay: Debra Steidel, $500