Installation of silk-screened wallpaper with brush and ink portraits of the namesakes of the ten oldest buildings on the UC Berkeley campus; a memory game made from photographs taken while attempting to visit every building on campus; and drinking water from the art/anthropology building and the law building offered side by side.
The seeds for storytelling meals were likely planted at my first Passover Seder as a child and have recently sprouted into a series of intimate events. Last spring I made a dinner for two based on their courtship story. Some dishes acted as metaphors (biting into a fritter of uncertain ingredients) and others played on the tradition of pièce montée (food sculpture which commemorates an important event, in this case a road trip in a snow storm represented by mounds of mashed potatoes and cauliflower). The next dinner, this time for four people, was designed to tell the story of my own relationship to food and art.
Most recently I created a 12 course meal for 12 people based on their family immigration stories. Hosted by 667 Shotwell (an exhibition venue situated in the home of Chris Sollars and Allison Pebworth) as part of SMEP (a collaboration between Southern Exposure and Machine Project) the dinner incorporated regional recipes, cultural mash-ups, local immigration history and elements of active participation on the part of the diners.
The meal began with liver and onions and a vodka and beet cocktail, representing my own grandparents journeys from Germany to the US. Garbanzo beans and favas were shelled at the table as a reminder of the agrarian roots of many immigrants. Mid-meal, each diner was served a half of a lemon with which to stamp their napkins - dyed with purple cabbage which acid turns from blue to pink - one stamp for each generation that had been in the US. Toward the end of the meal a bowl of black tea was passed, each person at the table adjusting for taste - adding cream or sugar or starting over with black - and passing the bowl so that the person next to them would taste their preference and so on. Menus detailing each course were printed in Chinese, rendering them incomprehensible to everyone at the table.
As part of my ongoing experimentation with plant-based dye I created sets of linen napkins using dye made from onion skins saved for me by my local grocery (in two weeks they had amassed a huge box of red, yellow and white skins), avocado pits (apparently my favorite taqueria has a small mountain of them on hand at any given time), red cabbage (one head is plenty for one pot of dye) and cherry plum tree leaves and shoots (the trees needed pruning anyway). I’m still not over the thrill of pulling the colorful cloth out of the dye bath after simply simmering plants. So fun.
Even more exciting than dunking cloth in vats of dye is the satisfaction of laying down translucent layers of color using silkscreen. I first experimented with this process during an Alula Editions residency at Headlands Center for the Arts, and have been teaching workshops to show other people how easy and satisfying it is make silkscreen ink from plants.
Over the course of a weekend I invited visitors to the New Children’s Museum in San Diego to draw and describe the last piece of trash they remembered throwing away. I combined the resulting text and images to create textiles which became building materials for ad hoc fort making in the museum.
I met Matthew while leading workshops at Laguna Honda Hospital. He was one of the youngest workshop participants and he always wore a mask. At the end of the workshop he shared his story with me and invited me to collaborate on a project that would tell that story. Matthew’s goal was to try to come to terms with his new appearance. Through drawings, photographs and interviews we pursued that goal together.
Drawn Together was a year-long collaboration with Laguna Honda Hospital (LHH) in San Francisco. I led long-term-care patients (residents) in printmaking workshops during which they made relief print portraits of residents and staff, and block prints based on photographs of plants from LHH gardens. The resulting artwork was transformed into textile designs, printed on fabric and sewn into scrubs and pillowcases for use in the hospital. The scrubs were for sale in the LHH gift shop and pillowcases were distributed free to residents throughout the hospital. Proceeds from the sale of scrubs went into the LHH Resident Gift Fund. The project culminated with a party and fashion show to celebrate all of the residents, staff and volunteers who participated in the project.
This project was made possible in part by a grant from the Creative Work Fund through support from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and The James Irvine Foundation.
Edition of 50 framed sets of 1” buttons representing the phases of the moon. Owners of the edition are meant to hang the artwork on the wall and remove the pins from the foam backed frame to wear them in correspondence with the actual phases of the moon. The edition was made in collaboration with The Present Group and included an essay written by Matthew Rana, a DVD interview and a widget for determining the current moon phase.