In September, 2008 I held my MFA exhibition, Home Economics at the Harwood Art Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I ripped the title of my show from a collection of Wendell Berry’s essays on family, friendship, education, agriculture, government, and economy. Having found Berry at a young age, his writing has informed my viewpoint, fears, and hopes as an American. But his belief in personal productivity and human creativity, in the most human sense of the word, are what apply most to this body of work. Home Economics celebrated my local economy, its landscape, farmers, food culture and people through a series of hand crafted meals served on hand made pottery within an interactive installation. The opening reception featured myriad dishes culled form local ingredients grown in my yard, in the yards of my friends and on farms across the city. Gallery visitors were invited to sign up to dine in the gallery at meals scheduled throughout the duration of the exhibition.
During Home Economics, I served a brunch for a community of friends who had supported and collaborated with me throughout the year leading up to the exhibition. My friend Deb Brubaker is a farmer now living in Pennsylvania with her wife and children and you can learn more about their farm Village Acres here. In 2008, Deb helped connect me to local growers, gleaned local produce for me and offered endless advice on my own back yard garden. My friend Michael is a musician now living in Baltimore with his wife. He provided original accompaniment at my opening reception. Other friends collaborated on creating the large curtain that hung in the gallery. We spent three months sewing, cutting, and knitting together hundreds of yards of old polyester curtains, knitting them together, like so many households, into a new and singular piece of cloth.
I served dinner in the gallery during Home Economics for people from various identities and communities including my Father, who was still in town to to help prepare for and celebrate my opening reception. Other guests included students of mine from the University of New Mexico where I taught Ceramics, and guests I’d never met before who signed up at the opening reception. That evening we practiced the art of conversation in the fullest sense, learning to connect with people new to us across a wide range of experiences and view points. I remember our dinner fondly and looking back at these photos confirms warmth and humor around the table.