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Culinary Art

This portrait of Louie’s Kids participant Auja Ravenel was cooked up by students at the School of the Arts. It is one of four mosaics that will be auctioned at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.

february 2, 2010

Culinary Art
Local students play with food for a cool art project benefitting Louie’s Kids and Slow Food Charleston

Photographs by Kelly Bozard

Grab a few eager high school art students; then mix them with a local shrimper, a talented chef, a Wadmalaw egg farmer, a determined elementary student, and a renowned muralist. Sprinkle in some teamwork, and garnish with a dash of fun. The result? Four creative (and almost edible) mosaics that reflect the importance of local culinary traditions.

Louie’s Kids, Slow Food Charleston, and Charleston Wine + Food Festival have teamed up with the School of the Arts (SOTA) for this unique project, with artist David Boatwright signing on to assist the imaginative SOTA visual arts students in using dried foods (think beans and rice) to make large mosaic portraits of individuals who represent the cycle of food in the Lowcountry. Not only will the project “help the community reconnect with their food and heritage in a sustainable way,” says Slow Food member Melissa Clegg, but the works will be auctioned off at the upcoming festival (March 4-7) to benefit two nonprofits: Louie’s Kids, a locally based group working to fight childhood obesity, and the Charleston chapter of Slow Food USA, whose mission is to reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, soil, and water that produce their food.

The concept began simmering in early January when SOTA students joined Boatwright to visit two of their subjects at FIG. While the artist snapped their photographs, students mingled with chef Mike Lata, a founding member of Slow Food Charleston, as well as Auja Ravenel, a 12-year-old from Burke Elementary School who lost 64 pounds while participating in the Louie’s Kids program. They asked questions and listened intently as Lata shared his experience with Slow Food Charleston and talked about how he was “excited and humbled” to be part of this project. They chatted with Ravenel and learned how much her lifestyle improved from being a part of Louie’s Kids.

The team also did their homework on the other two purveyors they’d be portraying: Celeste Albers of Green Grocer farm on Wadmalaw and Wayne Magwood, a local shrimper and former president of the South Carolina Shrimpers Association. By the time they’d gotten familiar with each of these inspiring Lowcountry residents, students were excited and ready to dive in to their beans and rice creations, despite being a little nervous about the undertaking. “I’m stoked about the mosaics because they’re allowing us to help others,” says 17-year-old Joey Dixon. “It’s cool to know our work is effecting other kids.”

To track the progress of this tasty art project, click here.

For more information on Louie’s Kids, click here.

For more information on Slow Food Charleston, click here.

For Charleston Wine + Food tickets and information, click here.

Tue, 02/02/2010