Culinary Art House is an ever emerging, fluid mixed media project that explores ecology, culture, spirituality and politics around land, food, cooking and gardening. The exhibition highlights collage works by Simone Johnson focusing on the relationship between the earth, cosmos, elements and food, as well as the role of energetics in nourishing oneself, household and community.
Simone experiments with alchemy, particularly around transforming associations connected to historical racist depictions of Black people and watermelon, and in other collages, she meditates on the kitchen as a space of transmission and the connections between family, ancestry and rice culture that's been passed down through her maternal line. Most of her work is informed by personal experiences and in conversation with or response to culinary literature and media she collects. Besides developing a practice of cooking and gardening, one of the main goals of Culinary Art House is to spur conversation and connection around the topics the project explores.
Over the last four months, the project has grown in numerous ways: 1) the Culinary Art House library was born at Chinatown Soup which includes, among many beloved titles, "The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African-American Culinary History in the Old South" by Michael Twitty, "Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas" by Judith A. Carney, "Iron Pots & Wood Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking" by Jessica B. Harris, and "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat:Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking" by Samin Nosrat . . . the library will continue to grow and evolve 2) after spending time in Chinatown and the Lower Eastside, being around more Asian artists and food cultures, Simone has decided to journey Culinary Art House to different places throughout New York City, and perhaps, one day the world, to learn more about that particular community's food culture while also researching and connecting with her own 3) infusing experimentation and play with manifestation and creativity as it connects to Culinary Art House and finally 4) through a spontaneous conversation about creative blocks with Michelle, Simone has started exploring new mixed media terrain, working with larger surfaces and new materials. The time went fast, but all around it's been a fruitful learning experience that's definitely shaped the direction Culinary Art House is taking in 2021. In addition to her own visual art, Simone asked a small group of artists with Black and Asian identities to join her in showing related work. This includes (in alphabetical order): Bri Simpson, Denae Howard, Frog the Parhelia (ACC grantee: Elaine Wang) and Tattfoo Tan.