growing collards

Photos by Li Pallas, Heidi Hickman, and Ken Nahan. Sound Mixed by Laine Kaplan-Levenson

Growing Collards was a journalistic story sharing two month long design/eat arts project by folk arts media maker Li Pallas. Participants were invited to explore all the practical and existential qualities of growing, cooking, and eating collards by inviting the entire New Orleans community to share in the design plans, recipe writing, and feasting. The design/grow portion evolved over the month of October, 2010, when the site had drop by during gallery hours to draw plans or help plant. In November the project picked up speed when I made myself available by appointment or during gallery hours at several locations to collect methods of collard preparations. The stories, photographs, drafting sketches, and recipes collected will also be on view during this period.

Growing Collards was a design/build interactive folk arts installation playfully engaging food security + history of greens in New Orleans at Gris Gris Lab, New Orleans, October 2nd-December 10th 2010. Participants were asked to share stories, drawings, and recipes about their relationship to collards. Several kiosks (remote contribution + viewing sites) for Growing Collards were accepted + run through Louisiana Artworks at Editions At Dawn Contemporary Printmaking Show; The Multispecies Salon: 3 Swarm at The Front Gallery + The Old Ironworks as part of PS 1.5; + through PhotoNOLA for their Slideluck Showcase at Generations Hall. Additionally a fourth kiosk was run at the Food Security Conference at the Shelton Hotel.

The following artists were instrumental in realizing Growing Collards:

Gia Hamilton, Gris Gris Lab founder, envisioned The Lab 8 years ago while pregnant with her first child. After two unassisted births, one homebirth and engaging in wacky home experiments like “TV Free Home,” “Living Without a Net,” and ” Make Your Own Toys” in planet Brooklyn, Gia returned home to New Orleans. As an Urban Shaman, Gia can be found randomly building altars around the city, leading moon rituals, tending to the Magic Garden, making herbal preparations and dancing for hours to any music that moves her spirit. On any given day, Gia transforms into a superhero – Goddess In Action- using her Jedi Master, Maker of Magic, Tickle Monster Mommy, Intentional Community Organizer, Lifestyle Coaching, Alternative Educating, Radical Parenting, Healing and Artistic powers to create sacred spaces, initiate healing and creatively consult those in her presence. In the evenings, after an eventful and magical day, she enjoys quantum tunneling with her three sons into far and not so far universes.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson is a sound artist residing in New Orleans. Her contributions to the project involve organizing recorded stories for a listening station at Gris Gris Lab and the Old Ironworks as well as her avid enthusiasm and understanding of the project. She and Li hold obscure relational ties growing up under the same area code in New York State, and hailing the greater Boston/Providence region thereafter; still it was not until their arrival in the Crescent City that they became friends and collaborators over potluck vegetable lasagna.

Heidi Hickman is a photo documentarian with deep familial roots in New Orleans. She grew up in Chicago where she began her current project visually examining food deserts. Now continuing her project down south, she stumbled upon Gris Gris Lab and Li on the day of her install. Heidi being the magnificent and magnanimous lady she is, held the ladder while Li was wallpapering and took additional information to friends she knew would contribute. Her stellar photography can be seen on the site from her time at the Food Security Conference in New Orleans, as well as photographs of the tours of Gris Gris Lab from the same conference. She is also particularly swell at dice.

Additionally many thank yous extended to: (in no particular order) Rachel Arons of Edible New Orleans, Vaiden Kirchheimer of PK Gallery, The Community Printshop at Louisiana Artworks, Meg Turner, Ian Cozzens, Andrew Oesch, Sarah Reiter, Emmy Bright, Susan Sakash, Michael Pajon (especially for letting me borrow his camera), Ken Nahan, Maureen Iverson, Virginia Casper, Vanessa Adams, Mimi Cake of Snip. Snap. Savor., Matt Toups, Rachel Speck, Kristie Spierling, Jack, John and Wendy O’Neal, Mark Sanders (who loaned me a voice recorder after knowing me for 2 hours), Sarah Bearse, Nataki Jett, Saphira Contreras, Laura Spalding, Douglas Paulson, Carey Clouse, everyone who attended her fall silk screen class, Sarah Weisbuch, Stephen Kwok, Amanda Stone, Misha Heil, Christiane Wurmstedt, Scott Eustis, Nailah Ricco, Emily Wheelis, John Gerken, and Elyse Manning.