November 15, 2010

Oodles of Noodles

I have never been the political activist type. In college, I recall that some people I knew drove up to D.C for a rally to end hunger and homelessness. I didn't really know what all that entailed, but I pictured that they got out of the car, joined a mob, and proceeded to yell and shake their fists in the direction of official looking buildings.

I guess I'm just not emotional enough for that kind of thing. I never really understood the whole being passionate concept.

Then one day, I accidentally stumbled into the middle of a controversy of which I still, to this day, am not exactly sure what the message was.

It was spring semester of my freshman year when our art professor told us we needed to do an impactful installation art piece, no drawings or paintings allowed. I sat down with my art partner, a pretty, sophomore girl, and we started brainstorming. Then we presented our top ideas to the professor. I suggested we wrap an entire tree on campus in tin foil. The professor asked what that would express. Well I sure as heck didn't know so I stammered something about industry injecting itself into the inner xylem and phloem of our society or some crap. Plus, it would look cool. He wasn't buying it so we went back to the drawing board. That's when we came up with the best idea.

We would build a giant, to-scale place setting of spaghetti and meatballs! This didn't really symbolize anything either, but it was cool so we picked it.

We snuck into the kitchen of a frat house to cook about 80 pounds of spaghetti. It made me glad that I didn't regularly eat there.

We boiled as many industrial sized pots of water as we could and dumped in the pasta. One thing we hadn't counted on was the fact that the pasta was going to be a lot heavier once it was cooked. It also expanded a whole lot. We dumped it into several trash bags and dragged them up the hill to my dorm room.

Next we baked two humongous blobs of meat to make giant sized meatballs. The outside sure cooked fast, while the inside remained raw. I had envisioned them cooking all the way through, but the smoke alarm in the building prevented that.

This wasn't even my dorm, so everyone was extra mad.

Next, it was time to set up the display at the entrance to the student union.

Finally, it was time to take pictures. We sure looked small next to the place setting.

Up to this point everything seemed harmless, aside from the whole smoke alarm thing. But then, this happened:

I was confused. Was this person upset because we had blocked the entrance? You could still get into the union, really. Then, it happened again. What was this strange reaction?

Turns out, we had set up this display on the same day they were hosting the OXFAM dinner in the union - an internationally sponsored dinner to bring awareness to world hunger. And here we stood, next to one of the most colossal wastes of food any of us had ever seen. It was like some sort of strange opposition to an anti-hunger campaign, and who is against ending hunger, really? It was like we were taking the side of the French aristocracy during the revolution. To make matters worse, I had to stand next to the display all day in order to shoo birds and squirrels away who kept trying to eat it. Not only had I enraged the socially conscious, but I also had to run around like an idiot shaking a branch at the local fauna as they tried to sneak past me.

The good news was that I was suffering for my art! I was a martyr - something passionate people dream about! After being yelled at a third and a fourth time, I was feeling pretty good. I also got smart and began recording people's reactions so that when we presented a summary of our project to the class, we could show our professor the intense reactions we evoked. Artists love that sort of thing. This actually made the passersby even more angry.

When we finally presented the project, it was a huge hit. The professor loved the way we evoked an ironic sense of passion among typically complacent consumers, a concept that we readily went along with as if it were our intention. We ended up getting an A-, which, to be honest, left me a little miffed considering the girl who filmed herself going to the bathroom got an actual A. The professor mentioned something about how she had challenged gender stereotypes while at the same time questioning the taboo norms of our modern culture.

I was bummed we were outdone, but man, it was one epic bowl of pasta. And I was an accidental artist. Let them eat pasta.


David said...

Haha. How in the world can you grade art? Isn't it everything and nothing at the same time? lol. I would have voted for "Football In The Groin." Now THAT'S some good art! Great story though. Somebody's got to stick it to those World Hunger bullies!

Brittany said...

Oh Jordie...only you!

This made me want some pasta!

Anonymous said...

I totally remember this! Should have filmed the squirrels going to the bathroom after sneaking away with your pasta and balls.