Interactive and Performative events based on sensory experiences
Announcement: I do four free events a year as a surprise for lucky finders. You can learn more about them at my new website, www.thewondersmith.com!
You're walking along the seashore enjoying the late afternoon sun of winter when you spot something unusual sticking out of a piece of driftwood... Upon closer investigation, it's a barnacle encrusted message-in-bottle meant just for you! Inside is a hand-illustrated letter inviting you to a surprise event exploring the theme of "what would a shipwreck taste like?" A few curious finders accepted their call to adventure and showed up to the little seaside shack to begin their experience. Together we dined upon rich delicacies that could have been rescued from the depths of the ocean.We indulged in deep ocean mysteries and let ourselves get lost in the stories hidden beneath the seafoam.
Photos by Makenzy Smith and Betsy Hinze
Specifically designed to encourage interaction, this installation was based on the sensory delights found in tide pools. Clusters of glass forms held bite-sized nibbles of wild treats for guests to "forage" themselves. Detailed glass pieces were created specifically for this installation to showcase the activity of dining in a way that heightens awareness of environment. This event was held as part of ArtFort at Treefort Music Festival 2017.
These blown and kiln-altered glass forms were made as part of a residency program at Uroboros Glass in Portland. They are formed through a long and careful process of specific heat control and meticulous placement of components. A final firing in the kiln brings them to life as the edges soften and melt just the right amount. You can see how they were made in this album.
As the icy winter days give way to the sunlight of early spring,/ Golden rays cast a new light on the landscape/ Alder branches glow burgundy and gold/ Sagebrush in ethereal light gray-green/ The youngest of emerald grass blades emerging from the thawing ground.../ These are the colors of the seasonal wheels turning./ These are the colors of hope and growth/ Let us settle in and celebrate the return of the light! / These photos are from a private birthday party in early-mid February for a special friend of mine! It was an honor to design this event for her and the perfect way to spend a cozy, sun-drenched late winter afternoon. I don't typically do commissioned events, but every now and then I'll make an exception for someone near and dear to me. Cindy has been one of my most faithful supporters and friends and currently holds the record for the most events attended!
This interactive event took the form of a ceremonial tea party celebrating the beauty after fire's destruction and was appropriately held in the middle of one of America's biggest fires of the year- the Pioneer Creek Fire near Lowman, Idaho. Guests were gifted this experience and joined me in the middle of this charred landscape to enjoy flavorful cups of tea and a discussion about embers. Embers represent a decision: something that has been smoldering under the surface for a long time; will you fan it back into flames, or allow it to die away? I wanted to attract guests who were ready to have a conversation about change and moving forward, so I hid the invitations to this event in the personal growth sections of many local bookstores in Boise. The lucky finders were given an afternoon full of adventure, ash-inspired treats, and artful ceremony.
Moss Gazing (2016)
A Pacific Northwest take on the Japanese tradition of “Hanami,” tree-blossom observing. Instead of reminding us of the frailty of life through ethereal blossoms, moss reminds us of the constancy of life through ancient plants. Mosses were the first plants to emerge from the ocean and conquer the land. They range in size drastically and can be found in almost every ecosystem on earth. They have been here far longer than humans have existed.
So when life gets overwhelming and my problems seem larger than myself, I escape into the woods and practice the art of moss-gazing. That’s what I invited my guests to do with me this magical night- to make a point to notice the minute and the tiny; the dramatic landscapes found within the soft carpet of moss underfoot and the diversity of flavors hidden under a rotten log. Everything they dined on (and dined out of) was inspired by the delicate wonders of the forest floor, transformed through the poetry of manipulated ingredients and manipulated silica. Just remember, if you’re having trouble seeing the big picture, just look closer.
Lady Fern's Soiree (2016)
Imagine you are walking through the woods when you spot something unusual: a purple fern growing in a cluster of normal green ones. You get closer to investigate and find an elegantly-written note inviting you to a secret dinner party. Seems like something out of a fairytale, right? Well, for a few lucky people near Eugene, Oregon, it was a reality. These curious hikers celebrated May Day with Lady Fern herself, enjoying a meal of all-purple foods flavored with the plants from these very forests.
Eat Dirt (2016)
This project was a collaboration between myself and Nicholas Keeler of Authentique Wine Cellars. We explored the part soils plays in the terroir of wine through a 6 course dining experience based on the concept of "eating dirt." Under sculptural light installations, guests learned about the geological history of the Willamette Valley through the various courses from one highlighting the volcanic era through lava rock cream puffs to the current breaking down of soil by mycelium addressed by wild mushroom chocolate truffles. Special thanks to Anne Boulley of Artisanne for being the resident chef the night of the event and making sure everything went smoothly! Photos by Athena Delene Photography.
Pilchuck Banquet (2015)
Created as a part of the class "Eat Your Way Through Design" presented by Jen Elek and Netty Blair at the Pilchuck School of Glass.
As part of our three-week course focusing on glassblowing and food design, we came together as a class to create a memorable meal showcasing local seasonal ingredients. We all made our own clear glass place settings and dishes and designed a menu as a group. Then we each made a serving vessel for one item on the menu. We presented a banquet for our class plus about 15 guests on a long table in the woods in northern Washington, complete with candlelight and neon additions. Our meal perfectly showcased Pilchuck in early August and the combined asthetics and attitudes of everyone in the class.
Anyone who has ever survived hardship knows that the world is not all good, all the time. But the contrasts in life give it richness; the darkness gives light purpose. Without bitter, would we appreciate sweet? Without rough, would we notice smooth?
I created a food-based event called “Chiaroscuro” highlighting the importance of these contrasts to facilitate acceptance of past trauma. It was set up as a cocktail party with a banquet table in the center, divided down the middle. On one side were all-black foods, and on the other their nearly identical all-white counterparts. The forms were the same, the colors and the tastes drastically different. Pungent horseradish salad juxtaposing nutty and sweet poppyseed paste highlighted the vibrancy of each. The event was a forum for discussion, an exercise in empathy, and an exploration of the idea that life is richer with its many contrasts.
Photos by Ciera Butler
This event was a meditation on the healing nature of water and the importance of slowing down and noticing the small details and subtle rhythms around us. I made a series of big ceramic bowls inspired by the swirling of water and the greens of moss and lichen, which were filled with forest infusions and hidden in the woods on a mossy path by a stream. Each bowl held a different infusion with a different purpose, from the enlightening elderflower to the grounding mugwort. Each participant got a small cup with which to sample the various infusions, a sketchbook to record their thoughts in, and a map of the infusions’ flavors that served as a guide to the experience.
Voilet Soiree (2015)
Commission for client Renee Silvus
This project was a birthday celebration for a wonderful woman in my community. She wanted an elegant forest dinner party to celebrate a milestone birthday and hired me to make the tablecloths and drinking glasses and to be the designer of the table. We went with a purple theme to echo the spring flowers bursting forth in the woods and I added ferns to embellish the glasses to dress them up for a forest party. Renee designed the rest of her party and our mutual friend Amy Klingler designed a menu of all-purple food to echo the theme.
Inspired by the Bûche de Noël Solstice tradition, this
installation invites you to forage, experience surprise
and discovery, and indulge the imagination in the
setting of a Yule-time party. Join the hunt for
confectionary mushrooms made out of wild-foraged
ingredients and embrace the good, the bad,
Collaboration with Chef Amy Klingler and Artist Alan Giltzow, supported by McWed. Photos by Cimbalik Photography.
Fire is regenerative and can even be healing--it's part of the cycle of life, death, and decay. It is also transformative. Raku ceramic pieces turn from mud into glass before our eyes as the smoke permeates our skin and hair. Fingers tingle as the warmth from a campfire soaks deep inside them and chases the chill out. Flames flicker and dance and mesmerize.
We celebrated the good side of fire at this event, featuring Eclade des Moules (a French tradition of cooking mussels under pine needles), a celebratory Raku firing, the burning of homemade incense, and delightfully flammable desserts. A night of fire and smoke was the perfect transition between seasons.
An interactive performance piece exploring the themes of connectivity and togethernes through sound. Together, we invited the cleansing and renewal that comes with each new moon cycle and came together as a community through harmony and resonance. Description of the event as photo captions.
Collaboration with Chef Gary Kucy
Photos by Cimbalik Photography
This project is an exploration of the beauty of plant pigmentation and a celebration of Spring in Idaho. We explored the character of each plant as it inspired us and nourished us. The word “tinctory” come from the root “tinctor” which means dyer. Together with Chef Gary Kucy, we explored the wild plants of spring in Idaho and the colors they have locked within them. I made all the table settings using natural materials and methods from eco-dyed tablecloths and napkins to fossil vitra glass plates to ceramic plates with homemade ash glazes. The plants used to make these crafted objects were used in the meal as well.
Collaboration with Jodie Lea
This winter has allowed me to reflect on the significance of the season. Winter is a slow season, a season of rest. It's important that we take the time to allow our bodies to prepare for the busy growing and harvest seasons ahead, and it's important to let our minds focus on self-introspection as well. "Boreal" is a multi-sensory relaxation experience and a collaboration with yoga teacher and relaxation coach Jodie Lea. We began the evening with a hibernation-themed yoga practice. Then we were brought into a state of relaxing hypnosis. When we came out, I presented everyone with a warm cloth infused with rejuvenating winter scents, with which we washed our face and hands. Finally, I served each participant three evergreen-infused chocolate truffles on a handmade glass plate encapsulating the beauty of the season.
New Nest (2013)
Moving to a city for school was a big change for me 3 years ago, and I often reflect on the life I led growing up in rural Idaho. My family spent quite a bit of time outdoors foraging and exploring. “Forage” is an interactive piece that has allowed me to become more in tune with nature and my past. I served eggs prepared with foraged ingredients in blown-glass nests filled with twigs and moss I collected on walks in the mountains. I dyed the tablecloth with natural and local dyes, and set everything up as a picnic. I invited passers by to partake.
When we are children, we are constantly in awe of the world around us. As we grow and mature, we lose the ability to experience wonder like we used to. Through this project, I created an interactive experience for participants to shed their adult expectations and experience the wonder of discovery again, much as a child would. Please watch this short video for more information:
This was a performance piece I did about my family's heritage (Polish)
I began wearing all white, and cooked eggs with onion skins in the traditional Polish way for making red eggs. While the eggs cooked, I bathed in a natural dye also made from onion skins. When I finished bathing, I polished the eggs with olive oil and served them to the audience with horseradish sauce, as is customary.
Beauty and the Bundt (2011)
When posed with the question “What is beautiful?” I immediately thought of a simple job done well, something as simple as baking a cake. That immediately led my train of thought to the presentation of food: food well made and presented in an appetizing matter is absolutely a beautiful thing.Part of the beauty of food is that it is often shared. All of my favorite memories involving food are sharing, whether I remember making something special for my family or sharing a home-cooked meal.