Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Summer of Farming (hopefully)

I am finishing up my application for Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. It is an artists residency on an organic farm...kinda perfect! If I were accepted, I would be gone for two months in the summer, making artwork and working on the farm. My experience this summer volunteering at Green Earth Institute taught me a lot about farming in a small amount of time. I met people who were also very passionate about farming and sharing what they know. Each person had such big ideas and dreams and it was eye-opening for me. I want to do something very different from my everyday life and live in Wisconsin for 2 months and meet more inspiring people.

I have also been checking out Growing Power, a 2.5 acre farm on the Southside of Chicago. Who knew there was a farm in Chicago? They do a lot of teaching at this farm to young children and teenagers. I want to be involved with working with kids because if they only knew how their food grew they would respect it so much more and would enjoy eating a carrot once in a while. This could be a great start to something bigger in my life...but first I need to learn how to grow food because really I haven't done much yet. They have an internship for 2 months working 6 days a week on the farm. If I don't get Wormfarm, I may try for this or do both...either way, I expect to volunteer at Growing Power this summer at least. There is always next year to intern.

THEN a friend of mine (Sonia!) gave me an article about Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. This is a 6 month apprenticeship in Santa Cruz, Callifornia. It looks like they want people with a bit of experience, which I haven't got quite yet...but eventually I hope to apply here. It would be more than working on a farm but a real education about how it all works so that I may someday have my own farm or start a community garden...who knows!

And now some photos of greasy, sweet...kinda vegetable-less, vegan comfort foods from our unconventional Thanksgiving with my mom and sister.

This looks like an add for Daiya cheese...cheezy, Sun-dried tomato basil pesto potatoes.

My Mumah makes amazing vegan Flautas twice a year. mmm...

The end result.

Cinnamon Rolls (from scratch) that I made for breakfast. This is before the icing engulfs them.

And then the not so vegan Angel Food Cake. It required 12 egg whites so I brought a dozen eggs that I bought in Chicago from Hedge Row Farm in Sullivan, Illinois...where they have happy chickens. My Mumah made this for me just like the old days. So soft and fluffy. She is amazing and the cake is all gone.

Now it's time I consider taking a break from sweets for while...if I can help it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Potluck: Chicago Day 4

According to Jacob, my pictures do not make much sense...it's a lot of feet. :O )

This is the fourth day of Potluck: Chicago that I didn't have the energy to get around to until now. It was a very inspiring day and I had to do it justice...so lets begin!

This is one of the buildings from Dorchester Project in Woodlawn. The group met here early in the morning. Soon after checking out the building we met Theaster Gates, Rebuild Foundation founder. And this is the building where it all started. Here are some words from Mr. Gates, "When I moved to the 6900 block of Dorchester Avenue (minutes from my job at the University of Chicago), I simply needed a place to live and wanted my home to be Chicago’s Southside. My intention was to create a totally recycled/repurposed material clad living space that I could invite my artist, and art loving friends to for dinner, music, and conversation. I wanted to live in a place that fostered creativity, made neighbors more than usually comfortable, and could serve as a meeting place for those interested in community engagement, cultural programming, and celebrating diversity in the arts. As I embarked on the journey of turning a once neighborhood candy store into a living space for me and the beautiful objects I wanted to live among, I began to fill my home with many interesting finds and materials that I came across – an old copper sink, wooden floors from a shut-down local bowling alley, and ceramic vessels that held the stories of my travels and life as a potter. Then came the albums – 8,000 LPs from the closing of Dr. Wax Records in Hyde Park. Next came the books -14,000 architecture and design books to be exact from the closing of the Prairie Avenue Bookstore. Then came the Glass Lantern Slides from the University of Chicago Art History Department – all 60,000 of them – and before I knew it, I had on my hands more than just a few small projects. The archives that were now housed in Dorchester took things to an entirely new level and now my neighborhood, my house, my block, just might someday be added to that list of important places that anchor communities and cities alike – my neighborhood might someday be seen as an artistic hub for creative cultural happenings on the South Side of Chicago. Mix these special archives in with an Artist Residency Program and arts programming for the young people on my block and you have a recipe for change, and the capacity to impact and rebuild an entire neighborhood." This writing came from the Reblog Foundation.

A view from inside.

More from inside.

The beautiful floor!

A cabinet in the bathroom...all those beautiful woods and colors....mmmmmmmm!

We got to see another building that is currently being worked on. Instead of tearing the entire thing down and building a brand new building (although it would be cheaper that way) Theaster chooses to renovate the building to keep as much of the original beauty and history and not to create a new building that is ugly and doesn't belong.

Inside the building being renovated.

more from inside...we had to watch out for holes in the floor, that may be why I didn't get many pictures...I was afraid I would fall through the floor if I didn't pay attention.

We also got to take an outside look at the Dante Harper Project. This was a Chicago Housing Autority (CHA) development that has been vacant for years until now. "We propose to reactive the Dante Harper Townhomes into a development that provides 32 artist and mixed income rental housing, as well as an onsite art center where creative expressions, cultural exchanges, and art production can happen." Rebuild Foundation is not only creating art spaces but also creating places for people to live and be a part of a community. I would like to find a way to make art that works with people. The Dante Harper Project has gotten me very excited about the possibilities of art!

After we took the tour we sat down to listen to the life stories of Mr. Bill, Theaster Gates (the artist's father), and Ms. Marva Jolly.

They were all so wise and made me realize more than ever that I still have A LOT to live and learn. Mr. Hook grew up in Alabama and moved to Chicago. He was asked to give his perspective on something Martin Luther King had said about the different racism he experienced in the South and in Chicago and that Chicago's racism was far worst. Mr. Hook said that in the south, people were upfront and told you they didn't like you but in Chicago people would talk to you like an equal and the moment you turned around they were saying hateful things. He got teary eyed and I could see how much pain the hatred caused him. I can't find the words to express how I felt.

His wish for Chicago was "a family structure that can't be replaced by gang violence."

Then Ms. Jolly spoke and she was so charming...and jolly!

She had said that she used to wish for rain to see a rainbow and she was convinced the pot of gold was in Chicago. She was born in Mississippi and grew up on a farm making mud pies. She would tell her mother she wanted to know where black people came from because all she had ever been taught was where the white people were from. She went to Africa in 1974 and said that the experience "filled her up and allowed her to come home [America]."

She said that woman artists are the big deal now and that "people ought to have something to say" I can't agree more!

She was full of such wonderful words that I kept filling my notebook with quotes. "It's you, and what you gonna do!" and "if you practice positiveness, it will become a part of you." I have been trying to incorporate the last quote into my life...it's difficult but then I remember what she said and I try again.

We then went to the Smart Museum which I had never heard of nor been to, but will now be a regular visitor because it was fantastic. The artwork at the moment is work by Viktor Koretsky. He created communist posters that were unlike the propaganda posters we are more familiar with. His work was emotionally driven to make the viewer feel for the "Soviet citizens and others struggling for civil rights and independence around the globe."

We went back to Dorchester and discussed our future plans together as a group and the work we will be creating in the near future. I am excited to approach art in a different way and with a group. This has been, and will continue to be an amazing learning experience. Stay tuned to find out more about what Rights, Radicals and Revolutions will be doing!

The rest of the night we enjoyed a fantastic potluck at Dorchester and danced and relaxed!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Potluck: Chicago Day 4 (to be written tomorrow or Sunday once I get some sleep)

I will write about this amazing day when I have energy again. It's a lot to take in and there is a lot to say and I want to say it right...good night!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Potluck: Chicago Day 3

Two main things happened today with Critical Encounters.

Tonight, half of the group went to En Las Tablas Performing Arts Community Center "...a not for profit community arts organization established in 2006 for the purpose of offering performing arts training to residents in the areas of Hermosa, West Logan Square and West Humboldt Park in Chicago, Illinois." Due to the fact that the space was small and would already have 5 to 6 family's there, we had to split up the group. I was one who stayed back at Columbia. In the beginning of our day we had to come up with a game that could be played with the families that would stimulate the children and the adults and help bridge the gap between the younger generations and the older ones. This was a challenge for me because I do not know much about children and haven't spent anytime with them since I babysat a 2 year old 9 years ago. I helped where I could. I am not sure how the event went and what game they ended up choosing to play but I will find out tomorrow.

The ones who stayed back had a potluck (there was a potluck at En Las Tablas as well) and I made Vegan Chili! Here is the recipe.

1 medium zucchini
1 medium green pepper
1 medium red pepper
4 garlic cloves
2 medium yellow onions
4 cans 15oz stewed tomatoes (italian style seasoning)
1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
2 cans black black beans drained and rinsed
4 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro (although, emily, since you don't like cilantro, maybe some parsley would be good instead!)

-chop vegetables, saute in olive oil till soft

-add the 4 cans of stewed tomatoes into the mixture of sauted vegetables. Make sure to break up the tomatoes before putting them in, also, take out any hard stems.

-put the rest of the ingredients into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

After we ate we spoke about what our group will be doing next once Ali and Tim are gone. We actually have funds to create something! Ali and Tim will be back in February and we should have a well thought out idea of what we want to do. For now we will share our thoughts through a private blog and keep meeting to share ideas.

I am going to be honest. I am very intimidated and I thought I was the only one, but after talking to others I found out I am not alone. The work I have been creating didn't have any sort of deadline...I could walk away from it for 10 years if I wanted. I am constantly switching from wanting to change some of the issues in the world and wanting to crawl back to my home and pretend I don't care. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about myself and others and I can't back out or I will only feel regret.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Potluck: Chicago Day 2

Today we started out at the workshop. Yesterday we had each answered the question "If there were one wish about the City you'd want to see realized, what would it be?" Everyone, including myself gave vague answers like equality (an abstract word). When I wrote my answer I felt like it was pointless because my wish was unachievable. Today we talked about our vague answers and realized we shouldn't try to fix the whole problem but work small and change slowly. If we give ourselves such a huge task we won't be able to achieve it. We shouldn't work towards a conclusion but just see where each effort takes us and be a living example.

Also, we spoke about working with a community. Instead of working to fix something you think a community wants...ask them! Who am I to say what someone else needs without really talking to that person. I am thinking of ways I can make my artwork more about what a community thinks about food and not all about what I think.

Then we were asked to go out on the street and interview people we would normally never talk to and ask them these four questions and to elaborate...

-What do you think you give to the City?

-What do you think the City gives back to you?

-What are the areas where the City fails you?

-If there were one wish about the City you'd want to see realized, what would it be?

I was afraid but I was determined to do this not just because I was asked to but because I wanted to connect with these people I normally wouldn't and I wanted to hear their thoughts. But once I got outside I froze. After 10 minutes of considering interviewing multiple people I finally got the guts to approach a person. This person gave me a nasty look and turned me down. I tried not to be the ultra sensitive person that I am and 15 minutes later approached another person. This person gave me a dirty look and shook her head. My last try was the worst of them all...he told me NO! I felt awful, it hurt too much and I could not continue. I went back to Columbia, upset, and told them I could not do this.

By talking to Tim, Amy, and Ali I came to realize a lot of things about myself.

The people I am afraid to talk to are people that look unhappy. Also, the people I was afraid to approach were people I assumed were uninterested in speaking to me and I thought made assumptions about me. I had never fully realized this before. It was interesting to see the assumptions we make each day. It also taught me that speaking to others is not one of my strengths and that it is ok, I just need to find a different way.

Later this evening we had a Stone Soup at the Conaway Center. People brought in veggies and the Hull House prepared the soup along with some of the residents chopping at the veggies.

This is my organic sunchoke being chopped!

The chefs!

The bread! So yummy and beautiful!

There were people tweeting (I'm very unfamiliar with tweeting!) when people came in saying where the people were from and what they brought. At the very bottom is my sister. They also tweeted our photos.

Here is a link, my sister Katie and Mr. Jacob Martin are in there as well.

Motiroti introduced their art to the attendees and then we ate the soup and bread!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Potluck: Chicago, Day 1

Today was the beginning of Potluck: Chicago. If you aren't sure what this is here is a link where I explained it in a past post.

We started the day out at the Hull-House Museum where Critical Encounter residents, Motiroti, the members of the departments of Asian studies, African American studies, and Latin American and Latino studies (at UIC), and immigrant activists gathered to enjoy a breakfast provided by The Hull-House Museum. There were a mix of many foods like empanadas, apricot preserves, cornbread, marinated tofu, honey butter, tarts...some were old recipes that the Hull-House used to serve in the Dining Hall.

The Hull-House was "a place where immigrants of diverse communities gathered to learn, eat, debate and acquire tools necessary to put down roots in their new country." It was started with Jane Addams and her friend Ellen Gates in 1889 in Chicago's West side. Jane Addams believed that nutrition and food security would lead to more peaceful communities. There were 13 buildings with a public kitchen, baths, playground, and many activities such as sewing, cooking, kindergarden and day care facilities for working mothers, an art gallery, libraries, English and citizenship classes, theater, music, and art classes. Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.

It was amazing to come together in the Dining Hall just as so many others had done in the past.

This was one table of food at the breakfast, there was one more!

My plate of goodies. Amazing cornbread, a potato and grain bread that they use to make at the Hull House along with apricot preserves (oddly enough my favorite thing on my plate!), marinated tofu, and I tried the honey butter. They had whipped honey and butter together...what an amazing combo! I'm excited to try it with my vegan butter.

After eating, the Critical Encounters group was given handheld video camera things I had never seen before and we were asked to video people answering these four questions.

-What do you think you give to the City?

-What do you think the City gives back to you?

-What are the areas where the City fails you?

-If there were one wish about the City you'd want to see realized, what would it be?

So many people said the city gives them a beautiful diversity where they can learn from so many different cultures. Many said Chicago fails them by not giving equal opportunities to all areas of Chicago.

It was a beautiful breakfast with so many different voices. I have never been a part of something so huge, I could feel the amazing energy and joy in the room!

After that we went back to Columbia College for a Workshop where we did exercises to learn about one another and what we could bring to Potluck: Chicago. One of the exercises consisted of going around the room talking to each person for a few minutes trying to learn something about one another, once we figured out a skill of the person we were speaking to we would put a post it with that skill on the person. In the end, we all had about 15-25 post-its on us. We then put the post-its with the skills we could use for Potluck: Chicago in a drawn circle.

Another exercise was to work with someone we had not really gotten to know yet and make a life line with the positives times above the line and the negative times below the line. We would then share our life with our partner and they would present it to the group. It was a very healing exercise for me where I was able to realize the struggles throughout my life and how I am finally at a really great place in my life. It also made us see that we all have had equal amounts of struggles and joys and we should never assume someone has had it better or worse. Ali (from Motiroti) had said that when he did this the first time he was worried the person telling his story would get parts wrong but then he realized "does it matter if they got it right or not?" We are here in result of our past and it has made us who we are. The past is not something to hold onto so strongly.

Our last exercise was to write down our wish for Chicago on a piece of paper then we folded the paper into a boat and dropped it onto the lake.

Tomorrow we will meet again for a workshop and then at 6pm to 9pm we will have a stone soup and I really hope you will come. It is at Columbia College Chicago at 1104 S. Wabash, Conaway Center. You are welcomed to bring something to contribute to the vegan based soup!

o! and here is proof of a bit of my volunteer work at the Glenwood Winter Sunday Market...I realize I didn't write "winter"...hmmm, well I know I did on the other signs! I helped unload the trucks with the vendors tables and foods, then greeted everyone at the door and informed them about the upcoming fundraiser for the market. Then I helped get everyones things back in the truck when it was all done. A really great day. I bought some local maple syrup that is really amazing. And I was accepted for the winter craft fair alongside the market on December 11. I can't wait!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Carrot Earrings!

I am definitely keeping busy these days! This Sunday I am volunteering all day at the Roger's Park, Glenwood Sunday Winter Market. I will be helping set up, greet, work the pay station, and closing the market. I can't wait to see how the market operates throughout the day.

On December 10th and 11th the market is going to have a Winter Artisan/Craft Market alongside the farmer's market. I spent the entire day making earrings, magnets, and pins to apply. Whether I am accepted or not I am happy with the results of what I have created and maybe with the leftovers I will make that Etsy account I have always dreamed of.

Here are some carrot earrings. I figure I will sell the earrings for $2. They are made of fabric, paper, string, and homemade wheat flour glue.

Tiny brussel sprout earrings.

Corn and Spinach magnets! for a $1

Chicken and cabbage pins for a $1

If accepted, I will make much more varieties.

And when someone buys one of my items they get this little bag with the front of my business card on the front and back of the business card sewn on the back.

Don't forget to come out to the stone soup at Columbia College Chicago, Conaway Center, 1104 S. Wabash from 6pm to 9pm, Wednesday, November 16th! here is a link to the event invite on Facebook with more information.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Potluck: Chicago

I want to talk about the Critical Encounters: Rights, Radical, and Revolutions Artist Residency I am participating in from November 15th to the 18th.

It started with Columbia College inviting Motiroti to be their artist in residence for Critical Encounters. "Motiroti is an award-winning arts organization based in London UK. Its content is migration; its form is art. It works across artforms and boundaries, online and in live places, putting participation at the heart of its practice" They created Potluck: Chicago. Chicago is very diverse yet very segregated and the idea is that food can bring people together.

Myself and 21 others (very passionate people!) filled out an application to be a part of Potluck: Chicago by answering questions about our community. Here is a link to a video where I was asked a few of the questions asked in the application. I was a bit nervous as you can tell.

After I spend each day with Critical Encounters I will blog about what we did that day. Here is a rundown of what we will be doing each day and I would really love if you would participate with us on Wednesday, November 16th for a stone soup!

We will be visiting the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on November 15th and meet with "members of the Department of African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Latin America Latino Studies at UIC and immigration activist from around the city will join us."

On Wednesday, November 16th, 6-9pm, we will have a Stone soup at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash, Conaway Center Chicago, IL 60605 where everyone is welcome to come and bring a vegetable for the soup or something else like a memory, friend, music...and when you come in we will text it across a screen to let everyone know you are here and what you have brought. I thought this was a really wonderful idea because so often I go to events or parties and feel that I am not welcomed but this way everyone will know they are important. The soup will be vegan based so no worries if you are vegan.

Thursday we will visit En Las Tablas Performing Arts "a community dedicated to the exploration of dance and Latino heritage."

And Friday, November 18th we will visit Dorchester Project and meet Theaster Gates.

I am so excited to be a part of this. I would like to bring what I learn from this into my art. My artwork is about food and the many issues involved with food production...but I have hardly touched the human aspect of food and how it can bring us together. I have wondered about making artwork that involves participation from others and this a great start to see what Motiroti does and learn from Potluck: Chicago.

I can't wait to be a part of this and share my experience.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls and Gourds

I made this beauty yesterday for breakfast with Mr. Sanders. Vegan and from scratch, dough and all!

I have been getting super creative with soups and they are actually turning out great. Jacob is pretty happy about it. He'd eat soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if he could.

A bit of work in progress. This is another abstract gourd piece I am working on. The gourd I worked from is in front of the sewing machine. I drew the view of the gourd from the bottom onto fabric and cut it out of the fabric. On top of the sewing machine is an example of what they will all look like once I cut the paper around them. Now I am glueing the fabric to paper. It took a while to figure out how I would make these shapes and with what material. I originally would have sewed them but the edges would have frayed and look pretty terrible. The glue is actually keeping the fabric stuck to the paper and not allowing it to fray! From there I will glue the fabric on paper to more paper....hard to explain...but you will see soon enough!

This is my ooey-gooey wheat flour glue I make...it's an amazing alternative to commercial glues.