Food in Focus at New Wetlands Art Show

Looking at Hsin-yu Huang's "Let's Nest" in the Cheng Long Wetlands.

Old houses, vacant lots, local businesses, the edges of roadways, and the marshes of the Cheng Long Wetlands themselves are set to once again become canvases for environmentally friendly artists from all over the world, who are being invited to ask "What's for Dinner?" with their work.

"I chose the theme 'What's for Dinner' for this year because I think this is a big issue now all over the world... figuring out how to make food production safe, healthy, and not harmful to the environment," Jane Ingram Allen, the curator of the 2012 Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project, told TreeHugger in an email.

Encouraging Healthier Seafood Production
"The main occupation of the people in the Cheng Long area is fish farming, oyster farming, and shrimp and clam production, so this theme has a definite connection to daily life," Ingram wrote, noting that both agricultural and fish/seafood production in Taiwan are typically heavy on chemical inputs.

Citing the book "Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food" as an inspiration, Ingram added: "We hope to bring some attention to how seafood is produced in Cheng Long and start people thinking about ways to make it better for humans and the rest of nature."

Volunteers replant Karen Macher's "Floating Garden" after a storm.

Artists are invited to submit proposals until Feb. 8, 2012, for site-specific outdoor sculptures to be created in and around the rural Cheng Long village during the annual residency, which will take place next year in April with an exhibition opening in early May. In addition to reflecting the year's theme, proposals should incorporate recycled or natural materials -- such as reeds, bamboo, oyster shells, driftwood, old fencing, broken dishes, old fishing nets, and construction waste -- and the involvement of local schoolchildren and other community members.

New Energy And New Hope For A Poor Rural Community
"The first year we did the art project in Cheng Long the village people were a little skeptical and wary of the foreigners and outsiders, but now they welcome the visitors and artists and eagerly look forward to the yearly international art project," wrote Ingram, an American independent curator, artist, and critic who has been living in Taiwan since 2004. "It has brought new energy and new hope to this community."

Proposed artworks should also be designed to endure -- or adapt to -- dramatic weather conditions, such as the typhoons and strong winds that hit the area last summer. The team of artists and volunteers that went out to the wetlands after the storm found that many artworks had been damaged and moved, while others were still standing tall. They replanted or reconfigured sculptures that had been damaged and left alone those where birds and other animals were continuing to make their homes.

Food in Focus at New Wetlands Art Show
This year's Cheng Long Wetlands International Environmental Art Project is asking artists to create sculptures using local materials such as oyster shells and bamboo to spark dialogue about healthier ways to produce food in Taiwan.

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