Open studio session invites community to engage with future local food event

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“Why would you make a community project if you’re not trying to engage them at all?” said Becca Zucker, the fifth-year Efroymson Arts Intern at the Peeler Art Center. 

Last Thursday night, ceramics professor Meredith Brickell opened up the ceramic studio inviting students, staff and Greencastle community members alike into the studio for a hands on open studio session to make art in collaboration for her socially engaged art project alongside the campus farm dinner. 

Zucker is a part of a group of students who meet with Brickell every week to help develop the idea for the dinner program. Working alongside Brickell’s “brain-child” is Director of Sustainability, Anthony Baratta, and Director and Curator of Exhibitions and University Collections, Craig Hadley

“The plans for this event were inspired by the Lucy and Jorge Orta exhibition—especially, the meals that they organize,” Brickell said. “Craig Hadley, Anthony Baratta and I saw an opportunity to connect to the Orta exhibit and the campus farm with this event.” 

Brickell’s past first-year seminar and ceramics class ‘On The Table,’ and Conflict Kitchen’s visit were also inspiration for this project. 

The event on Thursday consisted of studio visitors having the ability to create art through drawing fresh produce, or using clay to create ceramic replicas of fresh produce. 

This art will then be incorporated into the ceramic plates that will be used at the dinner, or decoration on the table at the dinner. 

“The main goal is to bring people together for a conversation about local food,” Brickell said. “The talk at the gallery about the Orta's work, locating the meal at the campus farm and the plates made by my ceramics classes will all serve as facilitators of this conversation.” 

Several of Brickell’s classes are involved in creating the work that will be used and seen at the campus dinner, but opening up the studio to the greater DePauw and Greencastle community is key in engaging the community with the role of ceramics and eating local food. 

“Ceramics, and pottery specifically, offer this really interesting point of intersection where food and the arts come together in an intimate way and in a way that we can, as artists, dive into and intersect,” Zucker explained. 

The drawings guests made will be transferred onto plates as decals, which will then be used as the dinner plates during the farm dinner. 

“So what we’re doing with these drawings by placing them onto the plates is to hopefully incite a little bit of thought or dialogue,” Zucker said. “This is how you can engage in that invisible back-work in a way, and also contribute, to see your drawing on maybe the plate that you eat off of or maybe the plate that you’re professor eats off of or the plate that your farmer is eating off of, that’s a cool connection that we can foster and we have the power to do that tonight.” 

Students agree that the lack of dialogue around local food is a problem that needs to be addressed and this campus farm dinner, catered by Bon Appetit, in collaboration with a socially engaged art project will spark these conversations. 

“I feel like there’s a lot of people ignoring both dietary restrictions on campus and just not talking about local food in general, and we live in an agricultural state so that’s kind of an important topic around here,” said sophomore Hayden DeBruler. 

The campus farm dinner will be held on Earth Day, April 21st, either outside by the farm, or inside Prindle, depending upon weather. The menu will include meat from Fisher Farms, along with turnips and other produce from local growers. 

Tickets for 50 available seats will go on sale soon.