by Susan Ellis
Terrifying, isn't it? This is a Sarah Palin-esque artwork titled "We're Havin' a Tea Parody" by J. Taylor Wallace. It's also a functional cooker and is one of the pieces included in the National Ornamental Metal Museum's "Art Cooker: Taste/See" exhibit running May 20th-July 24th.
On Friday, May 20th, 6-9 p.m., the pieces will be fired up for an opening reception and barbecue. Alison Ouellette-Kirby, who curated the show with her husband Noah Kirby, took the time to answer some questions.
How did you get involved with the "Art Cooker" show? Have you participated in previous Cooker shows?
My husband and I were invited to make a piece for the second Cooker show in 2000. We wanted to make a piece that responded to the Metal Museum site, so since it is an old military hospital site, we decided to build a cannon cooker. We smoked a turkey in the barrel, and when it was done we fired the canon. We caught the turkey on a target (that we cleaned so that we could still eat the turkey). We had so much fun participating in that Cooker show, that we contacted the museum a few years later to ask if they'd like to do another — this is how we ended up curating this Cooker show, as well as the one in 2008.
How did you go about recruiting artists for the show?
We tried to invite a diverse group of artists to participate, so we purposely asked some blacksmiths, some artists that work primarily with metal casting, and some others who work with a range of materials.
The press release for the show states that the artists "share a passion for food, friends, and form." In that order?
Not necessarily in that order, but the spirit of connecting, creating community, and expressing ones' self is essential.
Are all the cookers functional? And are there pieces that work better as cookers and pieces that work better as art? Could you have one of these cookers in your home?
Yes, they all function as cookers. The artists were given license to interpret how they would build a cooker, so there will be a range of pieces. Of course, you could have one of these cookers in your home, just like you could have any piece of art in your home, though it may not match your couch.
The opening reception is also a barbecue. Will the food be made in the cookers?
All the artists are scheduled to be on hand to fire up and cook at the reception. Each artist will be making the recipe they've put into the Cooker show catalog.
How do your grill skills stack up?
Did you mean my grill skills personally, or the artists in the show? As far as mine, it is my husband Noah, who is the grill master in the family. If you mean my skills at building the cookers, that is a shared passion. If you mean all the artists in the show — we'll see!