Tending a Difficult Hope

October 15-November 19, 2010
By Leah Gauthier

Tending a Difficult Hope was an installation and relational work exploring agricultural plant matter as sculptural material, sustainable solutions towards a healthy food supply, community building through growing and cooking food, and ways of re-incorporating agrarian sensibilities and simplicity into modern life. The piece has two components, an outdoor generative sculpture food garden that was located on campus and an installation located in the Grunwald Gallery. The outdoor garden was planted with heirloom (rare antique varieties with colorful histories, which have withstood the test of time and varied growing conditions, but are now endangered, due in good part to industrial agricultural practices) vegetables, which the artist grew from seed. With the help of volunteers from IU and the local community, the garden was tended for the duration of the summer and the summer crop was preserved via canning, pickling and drying. There was also be a second fall planting scheduled to mature in time for the gallery component. Several public "performances" around food preservation were performed in the gallery space.

The gallery installation consisted of generative sculptures of rare food plants, our preserved harvest, our fresh fall harvest, and a gathering area (long communal tables and a make-shift kitchen). During the opening reception, and at regular intervals spanning the duration of the exhibition the artist invited the public and IU faculty/students/staff to cook and eat the harvest in the gathering area.

 Leah Gauthier, Tending a Difficult Hope   Installation view