A group of collaborators from The YMCA Academy, The YMCA, Greenwood College and community artists are developing a living sculpture capable of growing pickles. The partnership led by artist Micah Donovan with generous support from the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto YMCA, The YMCA Academy and Greenwood College brought the makers and innovators together to create a unique form of sculpture that grows in a solarium attached to The YMCA’s Family Development centre’s childcare space. This living sculpture will yield experimental indoor versions of chard, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, herbs and other plants capable of transforming into pickles, chutneys, and preserves. The sculpture investigates complexity in organic approaches to developing public spaces and parallels therein to cultures fermenting popular foods, engaging notions of authorship, art and productivity.
Partners Redistribute Expertise
Rebekka Hutton of Alchemy Pickles introduced the participants from the YMCA to lactic fermentation while Leslie McBeth’s Green Industries class from Greenwood College shared their indoor farming design experience with YMCA Academy students. Katie Mathieu inaugurated the solarium Pickle Guild with a sub-irrigated planter workshop, Micah introduced clay, steel cold-forming, and ferrocement techniques over the several weeks. Students, volunteers, teachers, and staff from both Greenwood College and The YMCA Academy worked together on all stages.
The last development phase employed a remote creativity exercise where collaborators divided into four colour groups across both sites, four at Greenwood College and four at The YMCA Academy, and each group tried to anticipate what other was thinking. The disembodied design exercise revealed deep trends that overlapped between the colour teams on each site and highlighted sculpture designs to narrow down the end result.
As the sculpture emerges from a synthesis of student and adult designs, the experiments grow and continue to develop, eventually accumulating in the form of living sculptures, plants, then pickles. Cross cultural, natural, healthy, safe, and exciting, naturally fermented pickles address challenges of food preservation, diversity, regionalism, distribution, and ultimately creativity. Working with the natural cycles and processes of fermentation restores a trust in the environment popular culture has only recently led us to fear, reconnecting us with our thousands of years invested in the pickle project.
Visit the Pickle Farm Website
*all photographs Micah Donovan 2012