Exploring Art, Food, and Memory: A Journey Through Performance and Visual Expression

Download MP3

Unknown Speaker 0:00
You're listening to locally produced programming created in KU NBC Studios on public radio K, u and v 91.5.

Unknown Speaker 0:11
The following a special programming aired in collaboration with the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art on the campus of UNLV. The content of this program does not reflect the views or opinions of 91.5 Jazz and more, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, or the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Unknown Speaker 0:32
Hello there and welcome to the military barrack Museum of Art radio show. My name is Dan soul or DK soul. And I'm here today with Martin Hacket, who's currently studying theater at UNLV. And the reason I thought I'd bring a theater student in today is that I'm going to be looking at a spoken word piece by one of my museum colleagues who couldn't unfortunately, physically be here with us. But she's also an artist. Her name is KTB funk. If you tuned into the barracks last show, you might have heard her talking about some of the pieces in one of our current exhibitions, the emotional show, and today I'm going to be showcasing a little bit of her own art after she showcased so many other people's art last week. But first let me say hi to Martin. Hello, Martin. Hello, hi. And I thought I'd read her piece, she's given me permission to read this. It's very personal. So it's going to be, I think a bit odd to hear her ideas and sentiments read through my voice, which is a bit different from hers, but we're going to run with it and see how it sounds. And if we have some time after I've read it, we're going to maybe talk about some of the themes and ideas that she raises. In that piece. Maybe a good opportunity for us to talk a little bit about artists who use food, and memory and bodies because she mentioned all of those things in the piece. And I thought the theme of bodies made it especially relevant to ask a theatre person to be here with me. Because of course theater is very focused on bodies moving through space. And of course, this isn't going to be because it's just a voice in your head. Before I read it, I'll just introduce you briefly to Katie as she comes from South Bend, Indiana. And she has an MFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. She's in Las Vegas at the moment because she's going for a second MFA at UNLV. She loves doing MF phase. And that's how she came to work at the barrack. She's been with us for a while she's been great. She loves making art, I think that's clear to anybody who hasn't had a chance to see her work as I luckily have. She's had solo shows in the Grand Hall gallery on campus. She's had open studios as the MFA is due fairly regularly. If you've never been to any of those, they're great. Even though I think some of the MFAs probably feel a little self conscious about them. They do open up their studios and you can come in and you can see what they're working on. And talk to them about whatever that is. I always love those. They're such fun. If you do want to know when those are just keep your eye out on the I mean, the fine arts department has a newsletter and E newsletter that you can sign up for. And that's a great way to find out about things like that, that are happening on campus with the arts. Okay. So without further ado, let me read this piece of hers. Anything that sounds weird in here is due to me and not her. And I'm just going to hesitate. Like I said it is quite personal. None of the things that are in this piece of spoken word art actually happened to me. This is all Katie here we go. In December of 1996, my dad was diagnosed with a rare malignant, metastatic and ultimately inoperable brain tumor. The prognosis was three months but he would live for three more years. I remember my first grade classmates and I following along with small slight chalkboards as we were learning how to read and write. I struggled with the material and felt extremely frustrated and embarrassed. We took a break at one point and I was out in the lobby getting water from the drinking fountain. I rubbed my eyes nonchalantly but my teacher Mrs. Holt spotted me and asked if I was feeling sad about my dad. Rather taken aback, I lied and said yes. It was easier at the time to admit that which I could not understand. And the twofold nature of that sentiment came to light only in more recent years. During this last year, I've been thinking a lot about food, what we eat, why we eat, the colors we eat, how we eat the curiosity Let's go on. There is a lot of inherent joy and grief when it comes to food, especially in the form of nachos, the crunch, the melt the spice, the salt, often cooled down with dips paired along like sour cream and guacamole. You start with a mountain, you end with crumbs and swiftly unbuttoned pants. Recipes for nachos are as vast as they come from a simple three cheese blend to 24 hour Root Beer marinated pulled pork with cilantro aioli and candied pecans. Nachos were the cornerstone dinner for our Friday nights when I was a kid. There must have been hundreds of these Friday nights and I can still smell everything coming from the kitchen and feel the particular brightness of the overhead floodlights. My parents would pair it with homemade frozen margaritas, a fish affectionately referring to them as greeters. The jarring metallic sounds of pulverizing ice would interrupt whatever it was my sister and I were trying to watch on the TV in the living room. I would smash my ears closed with my fingers, both in fright and annoyance. My dad always made the nachos and the recipe was simple tortilla chips, copious amounts of melted shredded cheese, sliced grilled steak and pickled jalapenos. The key to great nachos was in the layers. Always the layers, shreds of cheese and other toppings needed to be woven between the layers of chips otherwise everything would be gone after a few bites. It was a simple meal. It was a comfort meal. It is a meal I wish I could share with my dad once more. I do not remember a single thing I ate on the day my dad died in the weeks leading to April 27 2000. The kitchen was bursting with casseroles and cakes and cookies and other various lidded containers of comfort one might make for the loved ones of those who are about to experience death. At school, we were working on a group project constructing diorama of a house that had to include a battery operated light source. At home. I learned the terms, Meals on Wheels and hospice. At his funeral I sat in the front as family members often do. It was not until turning around and proceeding out of the basilica that I saw the pews were so packed, hordes of people were standing along the surrounding walls. If the key moments in the timeline of this narrative did not age me already, the mentioning of slight chalkboards likely did grief no longer courses through my 34 year old body the way it did when I was only 10. The grief I experienced then felt more like I was swimming through the motions. Today, social media tells me repeatedly that my aching hips are actually holding hostage deeply rooted emotions. That all I need is 30 days of somatic stretching to release everything. Tiktok often serves as my manic Lullaby and I fully acknowledge the addictive grasp it has on me. In the Swift swipe of my thumb at any time I choose, I can watch people tell me how to eat, how to dress, how to paint, how many squats to a fat ass, how to lose that stubborn belly pooch, how to deep fry a whole pizza, how to make no fast keto soy Matcha Green Tea protein bites, organic Of course. One night taking a pause from the more surface level content, the algorithm aligned to tell me about Einstein's idea of time, more or less, we are all experiencing it on a Timescape basis with all of the past and all of the future already in existence. Our loved ones are simply further ahead on this Timescape just beyond the hill we cannot yet see. My dad loves to sail. He loves stand up comedy, cold beer, and reading hordes of books. We both shared a love for horror movies. He taught me what sex meant over a game of chess. He was a doctor and had begun family practice at an office just up the road right before the diagnosis. When he had to turn in his medical license he started referring to every day as a Saturday. He read the Bible in its entirety. He graduated at the top of his class in high school in Columbus, Ohio, and attended the University of Notre DOM on a Fulbright scholarship. I told him once about a dream I'd had just the night before and he suggested I try and draw it He often took me to our favorite hole in the wall buffet called China wok and we would almost always go next door to Mega Play right after playing games and eating orange sherbert. He taught me how to sue the stomachache by taking deep breaths long before mindfulness became a buzzword. He loved to laugh and make others do the same. My mom often said he was the first to arrive at a party, and almost always the last to leave.

Unknown Speaker 10:31
So where do I leave this? I have never really been great with goodbyes bursting into tears when friends moved away on the last days of school, final moments in the doorways of rented apartments. I have a vivid memory of asking my dad, what are we doing after this? while on vacation in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. I do not recall his exact response. But remember him telling me patiently and repeatedly to try to enjoy the moment. That is a tough one for a Virgo Leo customers myself, always wanting to ensure that this moment will be great, as will the next. Therefore making this very moment all the more better. But no moment is a given. Nacho certainly make any moment better. A dwindling piled high a plethora of toppings serve as a reminder that time is fleeting, but life is sweet. Grief does not wait. Neither does joy. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle. Perhaps it is simply the layers between now and then.

Unknown Speaker 11:47
Okay, so that is KTB funks spoken word artwork. And I hope I did justice justice to it. It did remind me of a lot of local artists not just Katie, who use food in their artwork. I'm thinking of Katie's work now and her use of hamburgers. She often draws and paints hamburgers Martin, have you seen any of her work?

Unknown Speaker 12:12
Now that I can recall? No. Okay.

Unknown Speaker 12:17
I think hamburgers and pizzas are what I particularly recall not so much nachos, often sort of painted on cardboard, sort of another ephemeral material. So you have the ephemeral food. And then also you have the material that's eventually going to disintegrate in a way that say a more traditional material like marble won't. I also think of the fleeting nature of performance, which is something that you're of course very acquainted with. Oh, well. Like I said, Martin has been studying art. He's been in some plays recently. What have you been in recently,

Unknown Speaker 12:55
I was in Happy Days, both here at the NCT and to Vegas Theatre Company was CO production there and then I was involved in the devising and the creation of the Panto, Cinderella a panto for Las Vegas.

Unknown Speaker 13:13
That's right. I saw that too. There. We saw that together. I think that's great. I mean, Pentos, I think are especially fleeting, because things can change, things can kind of jiggle around. And like you said, it's a devised piece of theatrical art. In other words, it's something that doesn't have playwrights sitting there at the beginning and writing a script, like the script I've just written, I mean, that I've just read. Instead, you have the performers actually getting together with a director and inventing what they're going to do and kind of assembling it out of themselves into something that gets eventually kind of coalesced on paper. But I think there's also quite a bit of flexibility in it isn't there quite

Unknown Speaker 13:55
a bit, it's more about discovery than about, you know, discovering those moments, discovering the things that make the piece work, make it funny, make it poignant. And like you say, it's not somebody coming in and having something said they had a general outline. And then from there, we built and we explored, we looked at things that were very specific to Las Vegas, for example, the state flower being traffic cones, and the constant roadworks and, you know, obviously, things that are, you know, very Las Vegas specific, like, you know, the Cowboys, the gamblers, the seniors, everything that you had have in old Las Vegas and then brought that to the stage and some for form or another to, to really kind of, you know, touch base with where we came from. And one of the things that that made that special is because pantomimes are very airy they're very specific to the location in which they're being performed. They don't want to have like a cookie cutter pantomime, which is one of the reasons why it gets devised

Unknown Speaker 15:10
say kind of get Cinderella is a very flexible outline. And you you fill that in with details from the place where it's actually happening in this case Las Vegas. Yes,

Unknown Speaker 15:20
yeah, for example, one of the characters puck the major domo for the prints, his best friend wanted to be a Vegas in person. And that's something that they actually brought with them to the, to the show. But watching Nick case, explore that and develop it and really find that character was was you know, in de facto actually creating the character in the first place was was fantastic seeing that development, that exploration. And

Unknown Speaker 15:50
I feel like going back to Katie's work and the visual arts, I think I've seen that through her development to as she has been an MFA here, that she does refer things very much back to her own life as in that that piece she does. She has Spongebob Squarepants in her in her work a lot. For example, She tends to route it in those those very basic things, things that you might experience when you're a child, things that you eat. Things that you watch, she mentioned her father's love of horror movies. And I do remember a piece a piece that she did that was part performance. But behind sort of on the wall behind the space where she was performing, she drawn and painted images of villains, you know, evil protagonists from various horror movies. And she integrated them with the sort of autobiographical over context that she was performing to, and I thought that was really interesting. So I do see a kind of interesting synergy between particularly pantomimes, but of course playwrights who write plays also refer back to their own lives.

Unknown Speaker 17:03
Well, it's interesting. You mentioned it, because when you were talking about the work that she's currently doing that she's doing hamburgers and pizza, one of the first things I thought about was Dan 45, dan Hernandez, who does a number of things with pizza, and also taps into the autobiographical. And then you mentioned that you don't think she does much in the way of nachos. But Justin favela has done things with nachos and avocados and things and again, tying back to his childhood, his his memories. So you see a number of things where these two situations meet. Or for example, we were talking about this before, but brand Holmes, who does you know, high food with performance as an art piece. And it's an it's a once in a lifetime situation, because you're never going to have that moment again, the very first thing I saw from Brent Holmes was when he was replicating a family reunion barbecue and had made food to give to people and once the food was gone, the food was gone. It

Unknown Speaker 18:00
was gone. Yeah, I think that was a that was a vast it was it? Yeah, sadly defunct and rather great. I Artspace. That used to be around years ago. And he had I think film of his his family or his family's property. Yeah, that went so to really like Katie's untie those two ideas of food and family very tightly together and integrate them really, really, really closely. Yeah, who are some other locals who local artists or performers who work with food? I mean, I think of Adrianna Chavez, who's you know, a performer but has also done some visual art. I remember her their son eat a piece where their character Han Chico ate your sins and sort of absolved you.

Unknown Speaker 18:53
Also incorporating coolers and and other you know, food types, you know, memories of of LG on his childhood in the family members that she was basing the character onto? Yeah, yeah, very

Unknown Speaker 19:06
much. Yeah, you mentioned Dan before, too, and thank you for bringing him up. Because I was trying to think about food and artists and, you know, local art before and I didn't actually think of Dan, but you're right. I mean, he uses the image of a pizza again, as something that's very, very easy to obtain very close to life and childhood. You know, it's it's something that most people can get their hands on. It's not removed. So it talks I think of a kind of intimacy.

Unknown Speaker 19:39
Well, that in the lunchboxes, the fact that he uses lunchboxes, which is a fundamental concept of childhood where you have that's how you many people will take their lunch to school, not me per se because I by ended up having the free lunches at the school because we were poor, but some people actually have to take lunch to school and it's either a sack or Set lunchbox and the 70s Definitely 70s 80s. And I think a little bit in the 90s definitely brought out a certain Janessa quoi and lunch boxes where it's like these were these super fancy things that made lunch. Fantastic for kids. I don't know how, how much so it is now but it's like, I remember kids having the Star Wars, lunchboxes, Muppets lunchbox, he man lunchboxes. So you had fandom in the lunchbox as you had that kind of representation. I don't know if kids get that these days. But that was definitely something that's a part of dance childhood and brings that out.

Unknown Speaker 20:37
Yeah, and I love the very clever way that he uses the lunchboxes, those nostalgic food related intimate items, as storage spaces for the objects that are actually in the artwork. You know that he takes them he hangs the lunch boxes on the wall, which is just ingenious, you know, there's repurposing of this thing. So that the whole sort of material being of the artwork just talks of this nostalgia, it's not like say, a painting, or a statue on a pedestal, where the pedestal is not necessarily part of the artwork, it's like you've got the things supporting the artwork. And then you've got the thing on top of it that you're actually supposed to look at as the artwork and kind of blank the pedestal out of your head. Or in some cases with some paintings, you know, you and this is more traditionally, but to operate as a kind of window, on reality. And ideally, you're supposed to kind of forget that you're looking at a canvas with some colored dirt on it, and think, Okay, this is really a body but Dan doesn't do that he makes the whole thing. The thing. Although

Unknown Speaker 21:47
that brings to mind the College of Fine Arts joint piece that they did, they took to Edinburgh, for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is at Arts. And they made such a big thing about the focusing on the pedestal, the pedestal being what holds the art up, but they spent more time looking at the pedestal than the actual art pieces that it would support. So kind of the question was is the pedestal in and of itself art. So you're talking about Dan utilizing the things that we don't normally think of as part of the art as a part of the art that that becomes an interesting connection between performance and art and and our expectations and understandings of them.

Unknown Speaker 22:29
Now I'm now that we've been talking about pedestals, I'm back to thinking of bodies again. I mean, the body again that that embodying, okay, so that idea of the body, in a performance, you're not putting the body, I suppose you put the body, this is very confused. But I'm suddenly thinking of the body as an artwork without a pedestal, an artwork that kind of rejects the pedestal and moves around. Although now I'm thinking, what if the stage you take the stage as a pedestal, but then of course, you have performances. Like we've we've both seen that take place in places where there aren't where there are very ostentatiously not stages. We've seen performances in motel rooms, where you actually go and you sit on what's effectively functioning as the stage and the performer is just a couple of feet away from you. We

Unknown Speaker 23:22
just saw something wet last week in the living loop where they they set up performances in four different locations in

Unknown Speaker 23:30
house, frat house. Yeah, you told me it was a frat house.

Unknown Speaker 23:34
Yeah. And so you've had performances in places that no one's in the living room, one's in the basement, sort of one's outside by the fire pit, one's in a shed. And those are not normal performance spaces, but they were able to utilize that and create theater in those spaces. Yeah. And again, that ties into the idea of, you know, I suppose family and memory because looking at the interior decorated being a mid mod, building with those mirrors that had that kind of gold Fleck, you know, rivers going through it, you know, those, those those tiles? Yeah, that's that anybody who's been in an old mid mod house or anything like that will remember that, that evoke memories and seeing people basically in you know, lounging on couches, you know, jumping up and running around and those areas definitely brought back the memory plus it tied in with food and drinking and the various different things that we take into ourselves and how we treat ourselves and how we actually look at our our overall care for ourselves as far as our bodies because one piece was about the dangers of throwing yourself into addictive behavior. One was about social media and how in tying in with Katie's piece with the tick tock, how important you know tick tock has become to her and how it was Important to the character in that particular piece. So you have that build up and one of the other shows brought up social media as well, I believe that was viewed as copies. And then when they're talking about somebody actually doing deleting their social media because they're in a relationship.

Unknown Speaker 25:15
That's right. And I did love the way that some of them I'm thinking of the one that was in the garden in particular, refer to the fact that it was in a garden, again, that idea of of staging both visual artwork and performance artwork and saying, Okay, we are not pretending that we're just on a wall or on a pedestal, we're actually referring to the space around us as part of what we intimately are. And

Unknown Speaker 25:47
interestingly enough, ofone remember Carlota Lagunas was there as well. And she's one of one of Katie's cohort. Didn't she do a piece once ages ago where they had grapefruit was involved? Oh, yeah. During 12 inches of sun? She

Unknown Speaker 26:02
did. Absolutely. Yeah. And that was what they had cancer, grapefruit shopping carts or something like that. Yeah. It's so food is so versatile.

Unknown Speaker 26:13
It's one of the things that binds us, basically. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 26:16
Yeah, absolutely. And I love the way that you can move in and out of different meanings that food has, when you're using it in you know, to mean something other than okay, this is something that I'm just eating. Okay, I think we're, do you think we're about out of time? I think we're, we're coming up to the end of

Unknown Speaker 26:37
I trust you.

Unknown Speaker 26:40
That's right. I dragged you in here. I'm like, Come, it's nearly Christmas. Let's go and have some fun in a recording studio.

Unknown Speaker 26:46
There we go. It has been fun. Good.

Unknown Speaker 26:49
I'm glad you've enjoyed it. And I hope that everybody listening to this has been enjoying it too. So we are going to wrap up pretty soon. Again, I'll mention KTB funk, who wrote that wonderful long piece that I read earlier, which I personally find extremely moving. You can find her online. She's got a website, I think it's just KTB funk.com Or I think her social media is just KTB funk all one word. And she works at the Muldrow Museum, Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, as do I. And if you want to come and see us there after January 2, we are closed at the moment but we will be reopening. At the start of January. We'll be having some workshops for UNLV faculty, staff students during January. You can find an announcement about that on the front page of our website. And we'll be putting out a little bit more about that shortly on our social media. All right. Well, thank you very, very much for listening to us. It's been great

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Exploring Art, Food, and Memory: A Journey Through Performance and Visual Expression
Broadcast by