Feet to the Fire
Feast or Famine
The 2010-2011 Feet to the Fire program was dedicated to the issues of food and hunger. This topic intersected with courses taught in many academic departments, lecture series and artist works. It was also the theme of the First Year Matters program, which included readings, faculty presentations and the Common Moment for incoming freshman.
The Common Moment 2010 program featured music and movement from around the world. Students embodied the traditions of these cultures through movement, which was accompanied by the traditional sounds of the harvest or festivals celebrating food. The Common Moment featured ensembles representing Ghana and Japan. New students were assigned to a cultural group and spent time rehearsing before performing their dance with their respective musical groups. After the performances, the new students crossed the rope created from their wish ties and formed a human graph representing the results from their FYM survey taken before arriving on campus.
Cassie Meador performed her newest work, Drift, in October at Wesleyan with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. The performance is a comic, provocative and wistful piece that asks us to think about where our food comes from as farmlands are converted to strip malls and California peaches end up in Georgia. Meador also taught ENVS 346/DANC 346 The Ecology of Eating in the Fall Semester. Meador is a choreographer/dancer/educator with the acclaimed Liz Lerman Dance Exchange based in Washington, D.C.
Gina Ulysse, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and composer/turntablist Val-Inc performed “Fascinating! Her Resilience” about the significance of the word “resilience” in relation to the different narratives about Haiti in the post-earthquake cultural environment. The performance was part of the Earth Day celebration and the College of the Environment’s inaugural think-tank on the topic “Vulnerability of Social, Economic and Natural Systems to Environmental Stress.”
On April 23, 2011 Wesleyan University hosted the world premiere of Dear Mother Earth: An Environmental Oratorio composed by Glenn McClure. The work is a musical model of the biomathematics concept of “emerging complexity” using sound to illustrate the common themes of environmental messages collected from children around the world as well as environmental data related to insect diversity in local rivers collected by Wesleyan University students and the College of the Environment. The model was developed collaboratively between McClure and professors in the Department of Mathematics.
These letters were addressed to “Mother Earth” and share each child’s view of both the unique beauty and the challenges of their part of the world. While some movements are based solely on one child’s letter, other movements bring themes from multiple letters together, stretching from Ghana and Nicaragua to the classrooms of Middletown. Images of student letters and artwork will be projected during the performance of the oratorio. “While each letter is unique, they all share the central themes of celebrating beauty, thankfulness, compassion and a call to action,” said McClure. “Just as a flock of individual birds turn together in the wind without any discernable leader, these children have expressed these themes in their letters and illustrations.” Along with the premiere, a project website will be launched that will continue to gather letters from children around the world and their musical responses as well as provide educators with teaching lessons and musical scores. This information can be found at http://letterstomotherearth.com.
EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS:
Art and Appetite
September 16 - October 24, 2011
Davison Arts Center
This exhibition of more than 40 prints and photographs from the Davison Art Center collection explored the depiction of food and drink across five centuries. Works included Pieter Bruegel the Elder designed the engravings Fat Kitchen and Thin Kitchen, 1563, as comic allegories of feast and famine. Käthe Kollwitz protested starvation among the working classes in Germany. Pop artist Claes Oldenburg monumentalized modern fast food with Flying Pizza, 1964, and Dieter Roth used cheese as a printing material in his Small Landscape, 1969.
Food for Thought
September 8 - December 10, 2010
This exhibition highlighted Special Collections and Archives resources related to food as a social, political and historical phenomenon. On display were agricultural manuals, early cookbooks and the archives of Wesleyan’s 19th-century Physiological Society and “father of nutrition science” Wilbur Olin Atwater, as well as recent artists’ books that explore climate change and the commodification of food.