Living Sculpture, 2008

Heirloom melon plants and mixed media|
Size variable, 2008

Photography by François-Xavier de Costerd

Funded by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Decordova Annual Exhibition, Decordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2008

Artist Statement

Eating is an agricultural act. – Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry returned to the farm. While it is not practical, nor even possible for the multitudes of us to follow in his footsteps, the agrarian values he champions–sustainable agriculture, wise management of resources, frugality, pleasures of good food, meaningful work, local economy, and connection to place, profoundly make sense, as humanity more deeply suffers the consequences of over population, detachment from the land, global consumer based economies, dependence on industry, and now technology.

My generative sculptures, incorporating heirloom food plants, are an artistic, practical and philosophical exploration into how growing, cooking and eating beautiful food together, from within a community might change us.  I have a lot to learn.  And I can only dream right now, of possibilities, as the journey will not be mine alone. Yet however processes unfold, here in the beginning, and wherever it leads, this work is an act of hope.

Agriculture, a noble and necessary occupation, is also literally a dirty business and increasingly removed from post-industrial urban and suburban life. Leah Gauthier, by placing agriculture in a specifically cultural context—the museum —asks us to re-imagine the growing, harvesting, preparation and consumption of food so that we may re-connect with some of humanity’s most fundamental activities.

The museum in many ways is a scared space, a holy shrine of art in which people act differently, look at things with a fresh perspective, and often seek personal transformation. When these behaviors and attitudes, usually reserved for Art are brought to bear on Food, our relationships to what nourishes us can change. The beauty of plants and fruits is more manifest, mundane picking and cooking become performed and observed rituals, and eating can be a sacrament. A simple shift in physical context allows us to experience, if even fleetingly, a much older, and perhaps wiser, connection to nature and our physical being.—Nick Capasso, Curator, Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park