First of all, I’m so loving our conversation below about vegans eating at vegan restaurants (or not)!
Second!! Please mark your calendars and come see yours truly at this super awesome-looking salon/art show/festival in Brooklyn on September 26.
I’m going to be recreating my little chocolate poetry/bird’s nest thingie. I have no idea why I was asked to be in this show as I don’t see or market myself as a “real” artist at all (an artisan, though, sure), but I’m really honored and excited and, best of all—unlike horrible private cooking jobs and guest chef thingies I’ve suffered through—it’s going to be easy (writing words on paper! I can do that!) and fun—viewers will get to eat the words!
In a classic English-majors-can-assign-meaning-to-anything move, I wrote up the following artist statement about the piece, and along the way I realized that it actually has some awesome deep implications:
As a food activist who earns a living through chocolate-making, I see my chocolate business as a way to express my political values. I use sustainable chocolate that is made by a small company that is committed to environmental responsibility and works directly with farmers to ensure that their cacao beans are harvested without child slavery (which is, horribly, common practice in the mainstream chocolate industry). My chocolates are all vegan, so they do not participate in the system of institutionalized cruelty that is the dairy industry.
A core value of my business is that ethical and sustainable foods are more deeply nourishing than their mainstream counterparts. Poetry is a similarly transformative and nourishing art form, thus combining the two doubles their power.
Manipulating the chocolate words into a nest and inviting viewers to take (and eat) words from the piece serves several purposes. Primarily it is a statement about the global home we share, and the ways ethically-produced chocolate improves it. As well, it is a comment on the flexible nature of language and poetry, and how the act of interacting with words changes our relationship to them as well as each other.