by Jerry Beck
“Comeback Kitchen Table,” is a series of public artworks that explore the changing role of the kitchen table including the social relationship between family members, health concerns, problem solving, and creativity. The kitchen table, once the center of family gatherings, is rarely being used and this is threatening young people’s physical, emotional, mental, psychological and spiritual growth. The Revolving Museum Founder/Artistic Director Jerry Beck will collaborate with a team of Nashua artists, educators and community member to produce 10 unique and diverse kitchen table artworks that will be placed in under-utilized public spaces in downtown Nashua.
The educational workshop and public artwork construction period will take place from January – May, 2017, with an open event to take place on May 6, 2017, as part of the Nashua’s Spring Arts Festival. During this downtown festival, the 10 kitchen tables will be presented along with performances and edible art produced by Nashua restaurants. In this way, the appreciation of the art, community, food, and civic pride will be a catalyst for community and economic development. After the opening event, these public artworks will be re-located at several under-utilized public spaces including nearby the library; the new oval public space; LaRose Square on West Pearl Street; Medical way on Main Street; Rail trail on Chestnut street; Foster Square; lawn area near Portland Pie on Canal Street; Bicentennial Park; Rail Trail next to Citizen’s Bank and nearby the Senior Center. Once the public art kitchen tables and chairs are placed at these site, there will be additional treatments including cleaning, landscaping, lighting, other artworks and signage.
The first table “Girl Power Table” was presented for the City of Nashua’s Holiday Stroll and symbolizes female creativity, independence, confidence, determination, and leadership. The colorful organic shapes on the table could represents such themes as family, harmony, diversity, and community. The paintings were created by Shaina Colon, Matt Swift III, and Dayne Heng as part of a Revolving Museum Youth Program. An interactive component of the project explores of concept of making choices such as where to place your food, drinks, and other carried items onto or around the table. In essence, whatever the public brings to the table becomes part of the art. The other important aspect of the project is the many conversations, facial expressions, body postures, movements, emotions, thoughts, and ideas that happen while sitting, standing, walking around and away from the “Girl Power Table” table further eliminates the boundaries between life and art. (see above)
“Comeback Kitchen Table,” responds to how the stressful American lifestyle in which eating fast foods and having little energy left when they come home is altering the health of our society. The American family rarely sits down at the kitchen table with their loved ones to share a healthy meal and intimate discussion about their daily life. Most families only eat together during holiday or special occasions a year. Some even call their kitchen tables the “Thanksgiving Table”.
Research has shown that our society is quickly moving away from the family-gather meals at the kitchen table to eating in front of technology without any connection to real people, authentic conversation and even lack of appreciation of the taste, smells, and rituals associated with the eating of foods. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that students who do not regularly eat with their parents are significantly more likely to be truant at school. The average truancy rate in the two weeks before the International Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test administered to 15-year-olds by the OECD and used in the analysis as a measure for absenteeism, was about 15 percent throughout the world on average, but it was nearly 30 percent when pupils reported they didn’t often share meals with their families. Children who do not eat dinner with their parents at least twice a week also were 40 percent more likely to be overweight compared to those who do.
This project attempts to create a meaningful bridge of understanding of the importance of sharing healthy meals together, supporting more communication between family members and neighbors; the power of collaboration and community involvement; and the celebration of the arts in downtown Nashua.
Comeback Kitchen Table will be documented through photography and video which will then be turned into a video documentary about the entire project that will be featured on local community access television and on the partners website.
For more information about City Arts Nashua, visit CityArtsNashua.org