21c Museum Hotels is made unique by its marriage of seemingly incongruous subjects, so we weren’t too surprised when our Bentonville counterparts decided to get metaphysical with baking. In this case, the fusion of food and art has inspired a project spearheaded by 21c’s own Museum Manager Dayton Castleman and The Hive’s executive chef Matthew McClure. As part of Northwest Arkansas’s Sensory Iconoclast Project which pairs regional chefs and artists together to form a collaboration of their choosing, McClure and Castleman opted to go seriously meta with The Hive’s famous organic corn muffins.
The project, entitled Look Taste See, involves creating two-dozen hand painted plaster reproductions of The Hive’s authentic organic corn muffins. Castleman crafts the plaster-cast muffins to resemble the edible version, then returns a sample of the reproduced muffins back to McClure so that a batch of two dozen edible muffins are baked to closely resemble Castleman’s sculptures. The plaster muffins are then arranged in seven different six-cup muffin pans. Depending on their locations, specific muffins correspond with the position of the bumps one finds in a standard 2 x 3 set of Braille cells, with each pan equivalent to one letter. The remaining empty cells are then filled with the tasty muffin batter. Viewers of the work are then invited to determine which muffins are edible by looking, touching and ultimately consuming them. As the edible muffins are eaten and removed from the pan, the plaster muffins slowly reveal the Braille writing system, finally spelling out the name of the subject in question.
In the piece, corn muffins are represented authentically by the edible formulations, and as visual icons by the cast and painted reproductions. Lastly, they are symbolically represented through the abstraction of language when the word “muffins” is finally spelled out – in this case, using the coded writing system of Braille. The endeavor is nod to artist Joseph Kosuth’s renowned 1965 conceptual artwork One and Three Chairs, in which the artist presents a chair, a photograph of the chair, and the dictionary definition of the word chair printed in large type on the wall (talk about meta.)
On 08.20.14 Castleman and McClure will present their marriage of food and art during Crystal Bridges Wednesday Over Water Series.