In the chapter called Paper a woman named K is meticulously remembering to make the best shijimi soup and kakiage tempura. On days she runs out of rice, she quickly transforms her daily special into an udon soup with left over noodles that sustain and feed hungry mouths of fisherman for the rest of the day until the pink ruby sunset magically happens. She knows then that her shift is done. This is what K does day in and out, on a strange and mysterious island of Kayashima in the 1960s’ Japan.
When Sherri and I spoke out some of the public programs that would happen around the exhibition, we talked about a way to connect the seniors in the neighbouring Nikkei Home and the possibility of including food. I thought about the character K and her role in narrative, her dedication to maintaining a taste - in the story, I write that she’s mastering of her soup. A taste that would last a long, long time; serving the same customers – a taste that I hope as the narrator sustains in the dream world I have written around her.
Oishii (the Japanese word for delicious) is the thematic of a series of 4 drawing and tasting exercises/workshops that were offered to the seniors ranging from 89-103 years old – some with varying levels of dementia. What the workshops consisted of was a weekly drawing activity and an edible snack or a cup of olfactory experiences to tease out a memory. My good friend and artist Elizabeth Mackenzie first introduced to me to this idea of ‘drawing as a social activity.' Drawing not to master but to share in a common space and continue a sustained, collaborative activity - while we eat, talk, laugh, frustrate, etc. It’s been a huge learning experience but one that I'm not unfamiliar with. Working with Shako Club a few years back, I feel the deep connections and my need as an artist sometimes to break away from the fast paced-ness of production and to sit with elders and to slow down and be present. I'm also bestowed and the startling outcomes and all the unexpected things, and of course all the new connections that nourish me and my practice but I hope also everyone involved.