Re-Soup was a creative placemaking event that merged food, art, and conversation to bring together a community and gain feedback and ideas in a creative and fun way from a large group of people.
Essentially, the event was a huge community soup dinner, made entirely out of ‘recycled’ foods (i.e. those that are donated, gleaned, and/or not for market because of cosmetic faults). In addition to eating, the event asked for visitor par- ticipation beyond eating, encouraging diners to write, draw, and discuss memo- ries, issues, and solutions to current problems in the neighborhood. In this way the event became not just a way to nourish a community physically but also a way prompt conversations, relationships, and community-wide growth and impact.
The huge ‘community eating’ was held in October 2016 in Covington, KY. The event took the form of 100 6’ tables for soup sipping and art making, wrapping their way around the circumference of Orchard Park. 600 feet of paper table coverings were spraypainted with questions and prompts, asking community members to associate food with memory and get to know their neighbors and their ‘hood through this act of eating.
Re-Soup was created by The Center for Great Neighborhoods in collaboration with The NKY Incubator Kitchen. The project was initiated and led by artist Calcagno Cullen and was funded by the LiveWell NKY, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, and Cov10.
Photos on this page taken by Stacy Wegley.
If you would like to create a ReSoup in your community, please learn how by downloading the Toolkit here.
Started as a collaborative idea between Cal Cullen and Alan Wight, the CAMP (Camp Washington Art and Mobile Produce) is a rolling piece of art that physically brings families fresh produce, as well as offers make-it-take-it arts and crafts activities related to food awareness and education.
The CAMP project also aims to educate and raise food consciousness. To do this we used the Food Mapping method: a community-based activity that creates art while mapping food sources and conversing with neighbors about the personal health, community, economic, and ecological impacts of our food systems. The resulting Food Maps can be downloaded by clicking here.
The CAMP cart was designed and built by Skip Cullen and Matt Wiseman (part of SLAPface), and the bike was built by Abby Friend with materials donated by Mobo Bike Coop. The project was funded through an Engage Cincy Grant and is a partnership between the Camp Washington Community Council and Wave Pool.
Westside Makers is a project that was developed with and within the Westside Neighborhood of Covington, KY that included the development of a publication and a "makers field day" for the neighborhood. The culminating event on May 21st involved makers in the community moving their practice outside or inviting the neighborhood into their studio to share. The hub of the event took place at Orchard Park, where attendees could pick up the book as well as a map directing them to all of the participating homes and locations in the neighborhood. The book is both interviews and stories of residents in the Westside as well as recipes and how-to diy instructions. The publication can be viewed online here or you can pick up a copy at the Center for Great Neighborhoods.
Casa Gialla is a temporary home for young men who have taken refuge in southern Italy. These refugees come to Italy via smugglers, originating from various places throughout the Middle East and Africa. They have survived a harrowing journey by boat across the Mediterranean, spending ten days or more without food on an overcrowded vessel. These people have come to Southern Italy with hope for a future in Europe, escaping religious persecution, war, and desperate poverty.
In the summer of 2015, I worked with the residents of Casa Gialla to raise awareness of their situation and to help them to adjust, using art as both a therapeutic and communicative medium. This project documents the residents through symbolic portraits, placing their image in the sand and against the sea to express the extreme difficulty and voicelessness of their situation.
Sometimes I make things that don't fit into a series. Here are a few of those works.
White Gunmen/Black Victims: This artist book uses text from media headlines to highlight the inconsistent and unfair way that people are portrayed in the media dependent on their race. Nick Wing of the Huffington Post recently wrote an article, "When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims". This book is a visual take on the points made in his article.
Snippets from these media headlines are printed on top of the skin color of the gunmen and/or victim. The book is meant to be read two ways. Reading it one way you see the headlines associated with white gunmen. Then you can flip the book over and read the headlines associated with the black victims. This is meant to further accentuate the dissimilitude of the media's take on these stories and furthers the contrast of these situations for the viewer.
What's Troubling You?: What's Troubling You? is a site specific installation as part of the Potrero Annex Government Housing Projects in San Francisco, California. The installation uses an un-used casing that was once a pay phone. By installing a new phone that is attached to a sound-activated recording device, and prompting passers-by with the sign "What's Troubling You?", the project solicits responses to the question from those that live in and utilize this often ignored and neglected part of the city.
This sculpture repeats OK, hand typed over 20 continuous feet of paper. The act of repeating such an motion was a form of meditation, symbolizing an incessant yearning to convince myself that all is OK, and that all will be OK if I continue to tell myself so. In the midst of chaos, I created this work to consol myself. The finished work hangs upside down on the wall, the 20 feet of paper cascades in a pool on the floor, exhibiting the work that has been done, with or without cause nor purpose.
The video below documents the process and becomes a piece in itself.
Work created for "Despite What YOu've Been Told" at the Adobe Books Backroom Gallery, June 2014
Per Rimanere Qui
Per Rimanere Qui and the accompanying sculptural installation Le Mani explore the effects of Southern Italian emigration through an in-depth study of those who remain in a small town in Calabria, Monasterace Superiore. Through images of both the people and of their weathered hands, this project explores concepts of hard work, persistence, and strength. These people and their stories are the epitome of how to maintain grace and dignity through hardship, loneliness, and the omnipresence of death and loss around you.
In addition to the photos, an installation was made as a public offering to Monasterace. The installation, made from molds of the public hands that were created during a public workshop in my studio, was originally up in the Grande Catoio, Add’u Paddizzu and open for the public to view and find their own hands in the sculpture.
This is a life-long project in which I write letters to people, chosen randomly, who live in New York City, found in the white pages. These letters are unconventional, scattered thoughts, including drawings and notes/comments on life. With each letter I ask the recipient to respond in some way. I include a self-addressed stamped envelope for convenience. This project is both a release for me, a way to send my most personal thoughts off in a little envelope, as well as a way for me to connect with the art world on the other side of the continent. I continually post the letters and responses on a blog (www.nycletters.blogspot.com) so that tech savvy and curious recipients can find answers if they choose. The project is continuous and has become a life-long commitment.
A series of large scale prints and an interactive sculptural piece that were on view at Market Street Gallery in San Francisco, CA in 2013.
The sculptural piece consisted of two identical typewriters, connected with one long length of shared paper. One typewriter asks viewers to contribute their “hopes” (for the city or for their own life) in black ink. The other typewriter types in red ink, and asks viewers to contribute their “fears” (again, for the city or for their own life). Together, the two typewriters tell the San Franciscan story of hope and despair, two stories on the same sheet of paper.
Call And Response
Call and Response is a sculpture that facilitates communication and sharing, commenting on the necessity of these components in our society as well as the nostalgia of physical communication in today’s digital age. Using old format phones, the project invites viewers to reminisce about the past and to enjoy the novelty of such items while finding deeper meaning in the sharing and receiving of stories and knowledge with each other. It is an act of conversation through the conduit of outdated technology and the comfort of confessing your own stories without knowing if, when, or who will eventually hear it. To this affect, Call and Response is offering participants the opportunity to speak freely without a watchful listener being able to judge and/or rebuttal what is said. The piece was installed at SOMArts as part of 'Dial Collect' in 2013.
The Telephone Heart series consists of large-scale portrait photographs, each hung with a vintage telephone mounted to the subject’s chest. When a viewer picks up the handset, they hear the subject in the photo introducing themselves, discussing both the mundane and dramatic details of their lives.
Phone Home was a collaborative installation at Burning Man 2013 between Calcagno Cullen and Geoffrey 'Skip' Cullen. The installation consisted of a dome structure built out of shipping pallets. Inside were a series of hanging telephone headsets, each playing an individual's story. Also inside rested a single rotary dial phone, which invited viewers to pick up the headset and share their own story. The phone recorded the stories, which are being played here.
The Meals installation includes a large dining room table, with 10-12 chairs each with a small flat screen TV mounted into their backs. Each of the screens plays a looped video of one of my family members eating a meal.
Show and Tell
Volunteers, found through social-networking sites and through friends of friends, connected with me via Skype to share their belongings. These people were asked to select something of significance and to “show and tell.” Through the Internet we share faster and easier than ever before. However upon closer inspection, it is clear that something is lacking; there is a flattening out, a cluttered disorientation. This project harks back to our elementary grade schools and times of simpler communication practices. It is nostalgic but also acknowledges the future and the increasing rarity of being able to truly interact.
Repetition in day-to-day activities has become important to me in my search for building communities with out the premise of a formal religion. Films in this series focus on mundane daily ceremonies, made special through repetition and a unification of many through film. These are a visual collection of people’s individual experiences, brought together to make and observation of community and culture.
I “collected” scars to create an installation that reflected on our ability to share experiences to create a collective experience. The installation consisted of 50 latex replicas of people's scars. They were molded from the participant to be exact duplicates and then placed in hinged plexi-glass boxes. The boxes were each rigged with a switch so that when they were opened, a recording of the person who bares the original scar begins to play, telling the viewer the story of how it happened. The project was displayed at Sycamore Galleries in Cincinnati, Ohio in 2007.
My happiness project aims to study and to eventually predict my overall happiness. I numerically chart a variety of things in my life, everything ranging from weather, to diet, to exercise. I then give my overall happiness a score, ranging from one to one hundred percent happy. Through this recorded information I am able to graph my happiness to come to conclusions about what makes me happy.
The irony of quantifying happiness by a percentage is drawn out with a long and tedious process to make a playful yet poignant statement about contemporary culture’s need to quantify everything. It also points at the narcissistic tendencies of today’s youth, where looking at one’s self and then displaying it to the world has become a popular and normal pastime (as evidenced by such social networking sites as Myspace and Facebook). My work also places me as the investigator, dismissing all prior notions on the topic. This is how I can be sure that my findings are unique and truest to myself, and not just an internet search result.
The series consists of 52 charts, charting one year of my happiness. A book has been produced which includes all of these charts as well as a worksheet for you to find your own happiness level based on this research. You may view the book in it's entirety here. To purchase a hard copy, please contact Calcagno Cullen directly.