Monday, May 24, 2010

30 Days of Dinner Time, Day 23

In the window, Gloria and Nate. They have both had dinners in the window earlier in the month with other companions. The scheduled pair cancelled earlier in the day for their slot, so Nate and Gloria stepped up to save the day. Nate is my husband and Gloria is our good friend and across-the-hall neighbor. We've been friends with Gloria almost as long as we've lived in Chicago, about 3.5 years.

For dinner Nate packed up a last minute picnic. They made their own turkey and salami sandwiches with hot peppers for kick, had pineapple chunks and mini-candybars for dessert and washed it down with Blue Moon and Mike's Hard Lemonade (Cranberry).

30 Days has so much to do with community, on a large and personal scale. This dinner embodied the overall crucial element of trusting the people in my life, those who are either invested in the gesture of the piece, the artist, or both. Without them and their dedication, this piece couldn't exist. Much in the same way that without them my world would be poor and anorexic at best. Having a front row seat to see people stand together to be apart of something outside themselves, even at cost to their comfort, is humbling and incredibly encouraging.

Gloria and Nate went for the sports theme in their dinner. Nate dressed in his Cubs attire and Gloria doted her Sox gear, including a replica of their 2005 World Series trophy which sat on the table. They each drank from their team's plastic cup (obtained at actual games). On the window was taped a GO BLACKHAWKS!!! sign as the team had just moved onto the finals (or whatever they're called in hockey) before coming to dinner.

In spite of the visual clues that baseball would reign their dinner talk, they told me after that little statistical analysis or bad-mouthing actually occurred. Yet again the window created a safe place for their hearts to sit with another. On the outside children ran, wheeled, yelled, and sat to watch the work. From inside the window it may have seemed like typical children having typical times... but on the outside I spoke with a young man about how little food he eats in a given day because his family's lack of resources, and a teenage girl who has no dreams for her future. The glass wall failed to illuminate reality for those looking through either side, image contradicted content with vigor.

For the benefit of the young boy filled with hunger, I broke one of my rules for the first time this month. Opening the gallery door I asked Gloria and Nate to make him a sandwich. For a small amount of time I was visible from the outside, though not fully inside either. For the first time, the participants knew with certainty what was being talked about on the outside. For the first time dinner came outside before the hour was up, art and life collided. Based on his reaction, it may also have been the first time the boy, and his brother with whom he shared, had eaten that day.

Through my years of training as an artist I have struggled with a crisis of function. Theory has taught me the significance art has on the world and its people, and yet so often I see careers built on nothing more than glorified selfishness. I haven't come to a conclusion yet of how to balance the two roles (and my inclination toward selfishness) other than to know I was made to do this and to grapple with the tension. Seeing art spring out of people... the thinking, feeling, hurting, committed, stimulating, challenging people in this piece, both inside and outside the window, gives me hope for a future that continues to respond to this struggle with grace, love and authentic humility.

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