There are a multitude of ways people interact with food, from preparation to consumption. That is what the new exhibit -- EAT: The Social Life of Food -- at UVM's Fleming Museum of Art is all about.
"For instance we have the wine sake -- it is still in there kind of mirroring the one that is sitting outside of it," said Cole Burton, a UVM Junior and guest museum curator.
The unique thing about his show -- it was researched, written and designed by 19 students in an honors college seminar class called Introduction to Museum Studies. "The idea was to give students a real opportunity to experience museum work from as many different angles as possible," said Jennifer Dickinson, a UVM Anthropology Professor. "And the way we decided to do that was to work with the Fleming Museum to create a class where they went from the ideas, to curating the objects, all the way through to an installation plan and even assisting with the installation."
Each student researched one object, wrote the label and decided where it would go in the exhibit. "Originally we wanted to explode the whole thing," Burton said.
Then they worked in teams with the Museum's curators to pull it all together. "It looks like it is in mid preparation for a meal. You could imagine the daimyo sitting out in a Japanese field watching the cherry blossoms in the springtime while his vassals and porters are taking everything out for his meal," Burton said.
Where did all these objects come from? "They come primarily from the Fleming Museum collections but also from other departments on campus including the consulting archaeology program and the department of special collections at the Bailey Howe Library," said the Fleming's Margaret Tamulonis.
The Exhibition looks at food as a basic element -- one that connects all humanity in unique and varied ways. "That, for example, is a piece of hardtack that was mailed home by a Vermont Civil War soldier named Charlie Wainright. He was from Vermont and it is an example of the rations Civil War solders were given in the 1860's," Tamulonis said.
While the emphasis is on the objects -- some very old -- there is something new in this exhibit. An ipad asks museum guests to share their food memories. The students also want people to send pictures of food to the exhibit that will then be displayed on a monitor. "I think what is really most amazing to me is the fact there were 19 student curators who came up with the general topic and the objects within the exhibition and they were able to come to agreement about what the text said and the importance of the objects in the show," Tamulonis said.
The EAT exhibit will be on display through May, so bring your appetite.
If you are interested in sending in your food pictures to the exhibit, the address is: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @flemingfood, Instagram #flemingfood
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