Food as Art: Exhibit of Artists' Gardens


Bitter Melon Trellis by the National Bitter Melon Council. Photos by R.Cruger

A series of statements about sick strawberries, bitter melons and the violent history of potatoes have been made with a collection of several gardens designed by artists and planted throughout the grounds of Los Angeles County Art Museum. The creative gardens are part of its year-long EAT LACMA show and events, including an exhibition from the permanent collection of food in art. Guess which food is most commonly depicted? The intriguing outdoor gardens and other parts of the exhibition are curated by Fallen Fruit, an art collective that examines concepts of neighborhood space, sustainability and citizenship through fruit, rethinking attitudes about food with activities such as mapping fruit trees in public areas and heirloom vegetable adoption.


Promiscuous Production: Breeding is Bittersweet

Next to the Japanese Pavilion, arching bamboo stalks (pictured above) create a "farmden" (farm + garden). This organic experiment intends to breed a hybrid variety of melon -- a BitterSweet melon -- exploring meaning and melon-ness by cross-pollinating opposing melons. Designed by the National Bitter Melon Council artists Miroko Kikuchi, Jeremy Chi-Ming Lui, Misa Saburi and Andi Sutton.


The Food Pyramid

A re-circulating aquaponic garden grows all the edible ingredients for fish tacos including peppers, tomatoes, onions, corn, and lettuce, with zero waste, no soil and no fertilizer in nine bins filled with gravel. Built by Jenna Didier and Oliver Hess, a plaque explains their idea is to rethink Big Food production. "It's a sculpture, honey," a mother told her toddler who asked if it was a fountain.


The Way Potatoes Go

Next to the Art of the Americas building, Asa Sonjasdotter installed a plot with a variety of potatoes - Blue, Red, Purple Cowhorn, Russet, Ozette, Lumper, Ajunhuirii, Papa Cacho, Negresse, and King Edward - from around the world. In collaboration with the Potato Park community, the artist describes her illegal farm, a mobile potato farm in Berlin and speaks to the political history of this global migrant plant.

Strawberry Flag

A structure stands in the museum courtyard echoing Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio's installation at the VA Hospital down the street. Reclaimed strawberries are in a recovery room, planted in IV bags filled with foraged water from rooftops that runs through a filter system of indigenous herbs. The Strawberry Gazette available explains veterans' issues including plans for a "victory" garden to be reactivated on the hospital's grounds.

On view through November 7 as well as a radish garden in a pedestrian traffic island and more, It all culminates in a day-long harvesting event, "Let them Eat LACMA" when fifty artists take over the museum, with talks and activities intended to "expand our perception of art, food and the museum." On Sunday, August 1, Fallen Fruit presents a Public Fruit Jam with visitors bringing homegrown and handpicked fruit to join in the jam-packing and recipe sharing fun.


"Public Fruit Wallpaper" by Fallen Fruit, inspired by LA's local fruit trees.

Inside the museum, an exhibit of paintings from Roy Lichtenstein to Diego Rivera, sculptures and textiles show food in artworks. More on that part of the Eat LACMA show exhibition to follow, plus other parts of the show including video portraits of people eating food.

Oh, the symbolic apple is the most commonly depicted food in art.

More on sustainable food:
New York's Community Gardens Lose Protect Status, Threatened With Development
Lifewall: Modular Vertical Garden Tiles Eat Pollution To Feed Plants
Chelsea Flower Show has Gardens With a Social Message

Tags: Arts | Exhibits | Farming | Fruits & Vegetables

Best of TreeHugger