Wókikigisge; n. 'things that are connected to each other'
Community Mercantile Co-op; Lawrence, KS; June 1st- June 30, 2012

Artist Statement:

When a seed is planted it is concealed, deliberately buried beneath the soil with the hope that it will germinate, grow, and eventually bear fruit.  The seed’s survival depends on how it relates to the world - to weather, predators, caretakers, and the soil it was planted in.   It has to figure out how to weave together the elements that enable it to thrive and navigate around those that don’t.
Similarly, the growth and vibrancy of the Food Movement depends on our ability to weave together the numerous social, environmental, and economic priorities in our communities, the ‘silos’ that together form the whole.  Which priorities are most present on the surface?  Which have been concealed- either deliberately or unintentionally?  And which one’s are just beneath the surface, dynamically weaving together the best elements of each so they can emerge as strong as possible?  That is the question many of us are working to figure out…

A starting place for me is looking at the recurring themes in my own life and work-revitalization of traditional foods and knowledge, protection of sacred sites, youth empowerment, and community-based artistic expression.  Weaving these things together happens naturally and it would be hard for me to create a “model” to illustrate how.  Just as the survival of each seed depends on the unique interplay of the seed and its conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weaving together the pieces of a healthy food system.

The pieces in this show come from several different people and places- both geographically and culturally.  The common theme is that everyone and everything has helped shape my role(s) in the world.  They are also all connected to the two places that have been my primary communities for the past decade- Flagstaff, AZ and Lawrence, KS.

 The panels were painted by the Black Sheep Art Collective at the Percolator in downtown Lawrence. The dandelions on the window were painted by Lawrence-based artist Dave Loewenstein, who was instrumental in bringing the Black Sheep to the Percolator following our collaboration on a Community Mural Training in Flagstaff the previous summer.  The cattails were harvested from the Haskell-Baker Wetlands and arranged by good friends at Bittersweet Floral and Design, whose mentorship in garden design and plant knowledge was largely responsible for me landing the job that put me in Flagstaff in the first place.  Interspersed throughout the space are photos of corn, ‘sustainability’-themed youth mural projects, wool/weaving, and reflections of the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff and the Haskell-Baker Wetlands here in Lawrence- both of which hold great cultural significance to the Indigenous people of both areas and are currently facing similar threats to their health and longevity.

- Brett Ramey; June 2012