The opening night of Green Acres was extremely successful! After helping Vicki make tamales all day, we threw everything into the truck and headed to the Contemporary Arts Center. Pushing a wheelbarrow down the streets of downtown Cincinnati, we turned many heads as we rolled into the show. Our tamales were immediately a hit; within the first fifteen minutes, we had already sold about ten. By the end of the show, we had sold nearly all of them.
The aspect of the project that I decided to focus most on was designing the tamale cart; at the “Green Acres” show opening, I will sell hot tamales for $2.00 out of a wheelbarrow. At the beginning of September, Vicki and I began discuss the design for the outside of the wheelbarrow. Inspired by a fabric pattern, Vicki told me to sketch a design that reflected that pattern and included the Three Sisters Garden: corn, beans and squash. Originally unsure of the desired scale, I came up with some rough sketches to show Vicki. After mapping out a rough plan, we got to work on cutting out stencils.
Vicki and I found that we had to cut out a variety of stencils in order to layer multiple colors. Problems we faced during the process included stencils ripping in half and ripping paint off of the wheelbarrow. Spray paint was the most effective media to use on the metal wheelbarrow, so we made sure to be thorough when covering areas while spraying.
After many hours of concentrated labor, our wheelbarrow was ready to be shown off at the CAC. The next step is the tamales themselves!
Tonight, I assisted Vicki in creating a design in Photoshop that will eventually be turned into a branding iron. She instructed me to put two upside-down “V’s” on top of one another in a circle in order to create her initials. (V.M.) Her logo will be branded onto tamales that will be sold on the opening night of Green Acres.
After trying Vicki’s homemade yogurt, (drizzled with fresh honey of course) I was curious about the process of lactofermentation. After discussing different foods associated with the process, we stumbled upon the topic of kombucha tea. Vicki pulled out her go-to cookbook, Nourishing Traditions – The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon, and had me read a portion on lacto-fermentation and kombucha. Intrigued by the drink’s health benefits, Vicki offered me a portion of her kombucha mushroom so that I could make my own.
3 quarts filtered water
1 cup sugar
4 tea bags of organic black tea
½ cup kombucha from a previous culture
1 kombucha mushroom
Bring 3 quarts filtered water to boil. Add sugar and simmer until dissolved. Remove from heat, add the tea bags and allow the tea to steep until water has completely cooled. Remove tea bags. Pour cool liquid into a 4-quart pyrex bowl, and add ½ cup kombucha from previous batch. Place the mushroom on top of the liquid. Cover pan with a towel and rubber band for 7 to 10 days and kombucha will be ready, depending on the temperature. Transfer to covered glass container and store in refrigerator.
After learning how to make kombucha tea, Vicki introduced me to a fashion designer via TED Talks that grows clothing from kombucha mushrooms. Although I am not studying fashion design myself, the concept blew my mind and made me realize the potential of agriculture as an art form: http://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_lee_grow_your_own_clothes.html
It was also at this time that Vicki gave me some insight to her own art career. She showed me the portfolio from her final art show, and pointed out an installation involving a small boulder. The piece, she explained, was based on the idea of staying grounded. For her, it was after having a baby that she realized her role as a mother needed to come before her role as an artist. The way I interpreted it was that although an artist will surf through the clouds to find inspiration, it is important for them to walk upon the earth as it is. I learned that after inheriting the farm, Vicki made a decision to start a new chapter in her life that no longer involved art, but rather focused purely on staying grounded. Although this story was not directly encouraging for me as an artist, it forced me to analyze my own life and priorities. At this point in time, I am striving to find a balance between the two, and I realize that this will take time.