Foundations Collaborative Project

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By Leslie Macklin, Foundations Coordinator »

This fall, multidisciplinary social practice performance artist Mike Durkin joined the Art and Design Department for a one-month residency.

Social Practice artists are not making work reserved for a gallery or museum space. Their projects focus on celebrating the stories of a specific community and are designed to allow the community to take part in crafting the artwork. These projects are unique because they do not always look like what you would expect from traditional artwork. Mike Durkin’s project, for example, culminated in a community meal event that fed our minds and hearts, and filled our bellies.

From October 10th-November 13th, UCA and Conway participated in Durkin’s ongoing project, “And you will know it’s done when the oil stops bubbling,” which examines the roles food plays in different regions of the United States. During several story-sharing circles with students and various groups in the community, Durkin recorded participants’ personal connections to recipes, the cooking experience, and food. The general public was invited to participate and contribute their own recipe/food experiences at the Public Workshop/Story-Sharing Circle on Oct. 18, 2022 held on the UCA campus.

From the story-sharing sessions, Durkin and his collaborators produced a cookbook specific to our region, an exhibition of creative work made in response to the recipes, and a participatory community meal. The capstone event, held on the evening of Nov. 10, 2022 at Metro Square, 1023 Main St., Conway, offered free food samples from recipes featured in the cookbook, shared the stories that inspired the recipes, presented visual installations made by the artist, as well as displayed an interactive 90-person tablescape made collaboratively between Durkin and students from the UCA Department of Art and Design Foundation Program.

While the cookbook and meal share are wonderful artifacts of his visit, the most significant gift of his project is to support the creativity of our diverse population and provide a new platform for citizens to make connections with one another and address the complex social issues of our region.

Coordination of “. . . and you will know it’s done when the oil stops bubbling was provided by Associate Professor Leslie Macklin. Funding for this project comes from Student Art Fees through the Artists in Residence program coordinated by the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Additional financial and logistical support was generously provided by Engage Management.