Switch­ing It Up

Artists, chefs trade roles in ‘Sen­sory Icon­o­clasts’

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPRINGDALE - BECCA MARTIN-BROWN

This year marks the fifth “Sen­sory Icon­o­clasts” project at the Arts Cen­ter of the Ozarks, and “Case and I wanted to ‘switch’ up roles this year,” says Eve Smith, ACO di­rec­tor of visual arts and founder of the event with chef Case Dighero.

The only ex­hibit of its kind in North­west Arkansas, “Sen­sory Icon­o­clasts” pairs a North­west Arkansas chef with an area artist and asks them to col­lab­o­rate on a theme: This year’s was “Trans­posed.”

“With all the di­vi­sive­ness in our coun­try at the mo­ment,” Smith says, “we de­cided to give an op­por­tu­nity to let ev­ery­one see through the art world’s eyes that it’s easy to try and put your­self in some­one else’s shoes. So this year, the chef will cre­ate in the medium of their part­ner and the ar­ti­san will cook!”

“This year Eve and I com­pletely em­bed­ded our­selves into the other’s medium,” adds Dighero, who is di­rec­tor of culi­nary ser­vices at Crys­tal Bridges Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art.” I in­vited her into my kitchen, and we cre­ated a bar­be­cue recipe that started with tra­di­tional, ar­che­typal base in­gre­di­ents and in­cor­po­rated our own pref­er­ences in de­sign to cre­ate some­thing very styl­ized, sin­gu­lar… We then turned to the can­vas in us­ing the same tech­niques for men­tor­ship by blur­ring the lines be­tween paints and mise en place to cre­ate our paint­ing.

“Truly, both end prod­ucts were in­trin­si­cally col­lab­o­ra­tive in na­ture: she had her hands in the cre­ation of my paint­ing and I had my hands in the de­sign of her bar­be­cue sauce. At times dur­ing both pro­cesses it felt a bit like we were mem­bers of a jazz band cre­at­ing an im­promptu sound — we were both ex­hil­a­rated.”

Sara Segerlin, adult pub­lic pro­grams man­ager at Crys­tal Bridges, re­con­nected with her part­ner from five years ago, Paula Henry of Crepes Paulette.

“With the role re­ver­sal, Paula and I fo­cused the col­lab­o­ra­tion on the idea process and lan­guage,” Segerlin ex­plains. “We each spoke our own lan­guage when it comes to de­scrib­ing our cre­ative views on film, dance and crepe-mak­ing. We were look­ing for how we could com­mu­ni­cate crepe move­ments into dance, which is a lan­guage I could un­der­stand bet­ter than a recipe. Paula be­gin to think like a film­maker or chore­og­ra­pher about her crepes — see­ing her grid­dle as a can­vas or dance stage, and in turn I be­came her crepe dancer to ma­nip­u­late and shape.

“Learn­ing the process of a crepe is where we be­gan to merge what we see into mag­i­cal shapes and pat­terns that led to our short film ‘La Fée de la Crêpière,’” she adds. “Our film is a re­sult of learn­ing the process.”

“Eve and Case wanted to shake up, wake up those of us in­volved — to chal­lenge us to reach a bit more than usual, leave our com­fort zones, and prove that cre­ativ­ity can thrive when bound­aries are re­moved,” Henry agrees. “Though we did rely on each other’s re­spec­tive tech­ni­cal skills, our goal was to re­spect those guide­lines and see where it would lead us.”

Henry and Segerlin dis­cov­ered the same thing Smith and Dighero did: “It seems that be­ing cre­ative in a pub­lic way — be it in a gallery ex­hibit or a restau­rant — re­quires a sim­i­lar bold­ness, or will­ing­ness to ac­cept ex­am­i­na­tion, scru­tiny, or even judg­ment,” Henry says.

“When Case and I met, it re­ally opened my mind to the fact that we ac­tu­ally work in the same man­ner,” Smith says. “All of the in­gre­di­ents were ar­ranged in al­most the same way I go about paint­ing. It was easy for me to look at cook­ing with this re­cip­ro­cated ex­pe­ri­ence of adding and sub­tract­ing un­til I get a fi­nal ver­sion I’m happy with.”

“Even the process of de­vel­op­ing an idea into a plan, then phys­i­cally us­ing touch, sight, smell, and taste to paint or cook — I loved the sim­i­lar­i­ties in our modes of de­sign,” Dighero agrees.

“‘Sen­sory’ has re­ally built up a col­lab­o­ra­tive spirit within my ca­reer and artistry that was never there be­fore,” Smith says. “I re­ally think our work ex­hibits both of our ‘hands’ — at least I hope the viewer will be able to see that.”

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Sara Segerlin of Crys­tal Bridges Mu­seum and Paula Henry of Crepes Paulette col­lab­o­rated on a film il­lus­trat­ing the dance of crepes for this year’s “Sen­sory Icon­o­clasts” project.

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