02/13/14 — Exhibit celebrates culinary traditions

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Exhibit celebrates culinary traditions

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 13, 2014 1:46 PM

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Arts Council Of Wayne County gallery director Traycee Williams hangs a piece of art for the Food! exhibit as director Sarah Merritt looks on.

Food -- everybody needs it, and special events in our lives center around it.

To celebrate the culinary traditions of Wayne County, the Arts Council of Wayne County will have an exhibit Food! through March 21.

"I think it's a really good exhibit," Arts Council director Sarah Merritt said. "We asked for artists to submit work that was food-themed."

Mrs. Merritt said the exhibit was open to personal interpretation.

"You could enter a still life of a bowl of fruit," she said. "You could enter a photograph of a food festival that you've taken someplace. There are so many different ways that you can portray food in art. The sky's the limit. You could even portray food through abstract art as well. We don't want to put any parameters on it. We want people to get creative with it."

And the artwork didn't have to be done by a professional artist. The exhibit was open to anyone. Art didn't have to be two-dimensional either. It could have been a sculpture or piece of jewelry or even a doll.

The exhibit was Mrs. Merritt's brainchild.

"This is the time of year when everybody is kind of fixated on not eating a lot of food because we've been eating so much through the holidays," she said. "Everybody's anti-food right now. So I thought we really need to think about having a food exhibit. Food is something everybody can relate to.

"When we get together with friends and family, it's all about food. When we're celebrating a big event, it's all about food. When we're mourning somebody, it's food. It's always there. It comforts us and plays a big role in our lives."

In conjunction with the Food! exhibit, the Arts Council collected recipes from people in the community.

"People come to this community and stay here," Mrs. Merritt said. "And they bring their culinary traditions and ideas, and they might have a dish that their Turkish grandmother used to make that they like to take to work for their co-workers.

"There are so many different ways that we share our own culinary traditions and they become parts of our community. I have my Yankee grandmother's recipes that I've shared with my Goldsboro friends that I make for them pretty consistently."

It could be any kind of recipe, Mrs. Merritt said.

"If you have that thing you always take to the pot luck or something you make every year for your mother's birthday," you can submit it," she said. "Something that you really enjoy cooking that other people enjoy, if you share that, that would be great."

The Arts Council will put together the cookbook, which will be available online.

Another part of the show will be a display of poetry and short stories about food.

And the Arts Council wanted to include old and interesting cookbooks with the exhibit, which people in the community lent to the exhibit.

There will be other events during March that coincide with the Food! exhibit. Those are:

* Indian food talk and tasting by Amita Shreenath March 6 at 6:30 p.m. Learn about the history, culture and components of Indian food. Free.

* Soul food talk and tasting by Rhonda Posey March 20 at 6:30 p.m. Learn about the history, culture and components of soul food. Free.

For more information about the exhibit, call the Arts Council at 919-736-3300.