Mix together a bouillabaisse of artists and biomes and what do you get? FoodCon! The second iteration of this most unconventional of conventions will use biomes to explore the art and culture of food, with the Harrison Center housing artists’ interpretations of the desert, forest, prairie, tundra and wetlands.
Leah Gauthier, a relational artist and Butler assistant professor, has been assigned the challenge of creating representational artwork for the tundra biome. “I think of the tundra as a place where preparedness would be important as a means of survival,” she says.
To emphasize the be-prepared idea, Gauthier’s exhibit includes foods preserved in jars, as well as drying peppers and herbs.
She’s also bringing along an extremely rare heirloom strawberry plant. “Heirlooms are plants that have stood the test of time, having been passed down from generation to generation, and are more naturally resistant to disease and pests,” Gauthier says. She’s devoted much of the past four years to saving the Marshall Strawberry, a plant that the organization Slow Food has included on its list of the 10 most endangered foods.
In Hank & Dolly’s Gallery, FoodCon-goers can taste Michelle Walkey-Thornburg edible works of art. Her exhibit is composed of lollipops with 10 surprising if familiar flavors: bacon, mashed potato, toast, pepperoni, chicken, cheeseburger, french fry, beef stew, pork sausage and salmon.
Walkey-Thornburg hopes her creations, which she calls “FOOD POPS,” will motivate people to think more closely about what’s actually in the foods they eat.
“We are truly unaware of what is really going on with our food,” she says. “Our products may be labeled, but they are still withholding information about what the flavors are actually made of. All we know is that they are natural and artificial. My question is, natural and artificial what?”
The photography of Ryan Collier will be featured in the Harrison Center’s Gallery No. 2. Collier’s images capture the whimsy and beauty of various foodscapes, such as a butcher shop and a small-town convenience store.
“I like to find and study certain objects or places with a certain curiosity to them, whether I am poking fun or just find them fascinating,” Collier says. “It’s like collecting.”
Consider FoodCon II a must-stop on your First Friday tour of downtown art galleries. The festivities run from 5-9 p.m. at the Harrison Center for the Arts (1505 N. Delaware St.). Admission is free. Indy’s best food and drink vendors will be on site to satisfy appetites, which undoubtedly will be whetted after viewing all this gastronomical art.