Sun Valley Center’s next BIG IDEA project underway now
KETCHUM — What role does the kitchen play in shaping our memories, our families and our social lives? How does the making and sharing of food connect us to our past the provide comfort in the present? The Sun Valley Center for the Arts explores these questions and more in its next BIG IDEA project, “At the Table: Kitchen as Home,” which opened Dec. 21 at the center’s museum in Ketchum.
For many of us, the kitchen is an integral part of our earliest memories — memories that bring taste and smell together with our visual recollections of the spaces in which our families gathered. We often recreate our childhood memories of the kitchen as adults, cooking from the same recipes our parents used, buying the same brands of foods that lined our childhood shelves or serving food on dishes we inherited from grandparents.
We come together in the kitchen for conversation, for doing homework, for making art projects and for entertaining friends and family. Kitchens can be places of creativity and experimentation, but they also offer the security of repetition and the familiar — the pot of coffee prepared the same way every morning or the simple meal thrown together by rote.
“We hope this BIG IDEA triggers talk about all that happens in the kitchen — the conversations that were and weren’t shared at the table, the food that was made and offered, the objects used in daily eating rituals,” said Kristin Poole, artistic director at the center. “As we settle in for winter and holiday celebrations, we look forward to conversations about the funny, sweet, sometimes troubling things that have shaped our ideas of home while we simultaneously honor that there are some without access to a kitchen, whose experience of meals and home is altogether different.”
The center’s visual arts exhibition features six contemporary artists whose work across a range of media examines the role of the kitchen, its contents, or the act of preparing and enjoying food in shaping our memories:
Abby Carter spent several years volunteering in a soup kitchen in Connecticut. Over the course of her time there, she got to know its patrons and began making portraits of the many different people for whom the soup kitchen was a vital resource. The exhibition includes a selection of her portraits alongside recent works Carter has made of the interior of the soup kitchen itself.Illustrator Ferris Cook has made a series of drawings of individual kitchen objects: an espresso maker, a toaster, a spoon. Her simple, elegant pencil drawings function as portraits of the cherished objects we turn to when preparing our food and will be paired with an installation of kitchen objects on loan from residents of the Wood River Valley.Painter Benny Fountain has produced a series of paintings that marry the interior of his kitchen in a house he once owned in Portland, Oregon, with views through a kitchen window of the northern Idaho landscapes of his childhood. His paintings underline the connection between kitchens and our memories of childhood and of place.Julie Green’s paintings address themes of food and the realm of the domestic. The center commissioned Green to spend time in residence at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Hailey, creating work in response to the history of the house and its interior. The exhibition pairs these new works with Green’s “An Embarrassment of Dishes,” a Noritake dinner service for 12 that she inherited from her grandmother and later painted with her own patterns and inscribed with stories from her youth. MK Guth has produced a number of sculptures that combine books, objects and written instructions for different kinds of events that involve the preparation of and sharing of food and drink. The exhibition includes two sculptures: “A Dinner to Remember” and “A Dinner to Plan a Revolution.” Her works invite viewers to consider the ways that shared meals can become transformative experiences.Following the birth of her first child, Joan Linder began making daily drawings of her kitchen sink “brimming with dishes, recently washed or practically untouched.” The drawings capture the detritus of life in the kitchen — the accumulation of plates and cups, cleaning supplies and cooking ingredients that result from meals prepared and enjoyed. Linder’s drawings convey the passage of time in the kitchen, where labor repeats itself in a daily cycle.
The exhibition also includes hands-on activities for learners of all ages in The Center’s Maker Space.
To further illuminate this BIG IDEA, The Center will present a series of lectures, workshops, films and theatre productions to encourage community participation and discussion:
Free museum exhibition: Dec. 21 to March 1Free evening exhibition tour: Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m.Lecture, “Cooking Shouldn’t Kill” with Nancy Hughes and Taylor Rixon: Jan. 3 at 6:30 p.m.Free artist talk with MK Guth: Jan. 9 at 5:30 p.m.Film, “The Irish Pub”: Jan. 10 at 4:30 and 7 p.m.Free family day, “Art, Drink, and Be Merry!”: Jan. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m.Creative Jump-in, “Sketching Kitchen Memories” with Bob Dix: Jan. 16 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.Winter Warm-up, Veillée with Music from Bon Débarras: Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.Film, “Chef Flynn”: Jan. 24 at 4:30 and 7 p.m.Free evening exhibition tour with Artist Abby Carter and The Hunger Coalition: Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m.Teen workshop, “Cookie Art!” with Virginia McConnell of Canuck Cookies: Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Free public storytelling event with Idaho Basecamp: Jan. 31 at 6 p.m.Company of Fools Theatre, “Dinner with Friends: Recipes for Storytelling”: Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.Free evening exhibition tour: Feb. 7 at 5:30 p.m.Free gallery walk: Feb. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m.Lecture, “Plates, Places, and Stories from My Family Kitchen” with Joanne Weir: Feb. 23 at 4 p.m.
Admission to the museum is always free, and the public is invited to visit the exhibition during open hours, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, in February, Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.sunvalleycenter.org or call 208-726-9491.