Reads, Writes, Eats and Cooks
Don’t miss this extraordinary exhibition about ordinary things, like dirt and spoons. Here is why…
This local studio to gallery recipe grows out of a Catholic farming family in Indiana. Artist and inorganic chef, Charles Gick, has been perfecting the cracked earth recipe since his childhood on the farm, drawing with a stick on summer mud. The exhibition is a culmination of his first tastes of meditative marking, multi-medium expression and elemental reverie. His work is as primal as the first cave etchings and as contemplative as the black paintings in Rothko Chapel. Cracked earth, both atmospheric and sculptural, becomes the ground for offerings and incomplete messages that either hover above or sit unanchored. On the slabs of cracked mud we taste the farm in the collective labor that stretches between the trucks of earth, the mixing of wet mud, the drying until cracked. Through this strange and shared effort of working the earth Gick cultivates a meditative space. The broken earth’s hunger for the clouds reminds us of a simple farming truth: blooming requires others. Gick distills the bittersweet taste of this farming truth by framing raw, earthworm etched, air-dried, messy dirt with intentional clean clarity, like all sophisticated farm-to-table dishes that celebrate the ingredients. His skill as an inorganic chef finds full expression in his ability to balance the raw and the refined. Not only is he able to balance sorrow and delight, longing and union, vulgar and elegant, he is also able to offer these tastes in multiple mediums and forms. His work includes performance, painting, sculpture, photography, design and video, so people with diverse aesthetic palates can find something to savor. The slabs of cracked earth become meditative totems, prayers for clouds. It materializes, an ethereal longing for the other. Enjoy these recipes for cracked earth, empty… and full… and taste your own muddy and cloudy longings.
Makes 2 (16’X16’ Slabs)
Next add the 1” X 6” wood strip around the platform perimeter creating a frame to hug and constrict the mud. Apply black Gorilla Tape at the seam to prevent the escape of water to the floor. Now the platform is ready to receive the mixed wet mud.
Using a wheelbarrow, transport dirt to the interior space closer to a water source. This transfer may also offer relief from hot Indiana summer days. Scoop dirt into 25 – 5 gallon buckets. Using a drill, mix 2 to 3 gallons of water to each bucket until a thick cake batter state is achieved. Relying on a table with castors and the energy of 3 people, push 25 buckets close to the platform in the gallery. Walk up onto platform as needed. Construct a sidewalk concrete pour-like dam that will permit a slow and controlled pour. Each dammed section will be limited by the stretch of your body. Pour mud until a thickness of 5” is reached. Repeat until the full 16’X16’ square pan is filled.
Use commercial fans to hasten the drying process. Rotate fans around every couple days. Be sure to face fans in the same single direction so that air travels across the surface, like wind over the landscape. Do not create tornado conditions. Allow for 2 weeks of drying time.
For vulnerable and soft areas, mix thicker mud to make a stronger mold. Also note that the gallery will become humid as water escapes into the air, creating an invisible domesticated cloud.
The poured wet mud of 5 inches will shrink down to 3 inches. The mud will become hard enough to walk across and hang up watches or place a cloud dome. Limit walking to protect brownie-like crust. Once mud pulls away from the platform wall about a ¼ to ½ inch, lift the 1”X6” form away without hurting or pulling the slab. Now the cracked earth is ready, hovering over the platform, broken and waiting to receive.
The Earth and Sky Coat
The Cloud Dome
Charles A. Gick’s Recipe for Empty…
Charles A. Gick’s Recipe for Full…
Find a willing gallery director, not afraid of heights or dirt, to stand on a lift, hold cup under each spoon, sprinkle dirt over each until a tiny mountain forms within each cradle, let the dirt granules comfortably settle. Do not apply wind to the fragile dry earth. Hold your breath. The teaspoons cannot hold anymore.
‘My fathers’ globe knocks on its nave and sings.’
‘This that we tread was, too, your fathers’ land.’
‘But this we tread bears the angelic gangs
Sweet are their fathered faces in their wings.’
‘These are but dreaming men. Breathe, and they fade.’
Excerpt from I fellowed sleep by Dylan Thomas
For recipes and tastes like, how to cage a cloud, how to sew an earth & sky coat and more, visit Charles A. Gick’s Dirt & Flowers: and other things we eat and breathe… at Wabash College.
Recipe developed by Charles A. Gick and written by the Hungryphilosopher