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“We can do more together than alone”

Community connections and collaboration

[Ed note:  As WIP is going to press, Ziegler and her team are completing the Lacey Food Bank community art project. Concrete is poured and the stencils described below to be incorporated into the sidewalk. Make time for a visit to the bank at 7027 Martin Way in July.]

Art is more than a pretty picture. It’s a way to speak out using shape and color. It’s a call to action sculpted by its creator. Local artist, Carrie Ziegler is using her art and the art of local students to encourage her community to rescue food and fight hunger.

“I use art as a way to teach and inspire,” explained Ziegler. “In college, I started melding art and science. Throughout my evolution, I have held firmly that blending art, the sciences, and community education results in collective action.”

Ziegler’s background includes working for Thurston County Solid Waste.  For a number of years, she was an educator active in the “Food to Flowers” program. This composting-based program made a difference by sending less food to landfills, but the idea of stopping the food from ever getting to the compost pile came to the forefront. “My job suddenly shifted from composting to food rescue,” she said. “It makes so much sense to have a food rescue program.”

When community leaders began planning the Lacey Food Bank, they wanted to include a storng art piece. “The food bank approached me to create an art installation and community engagement project around food rescue,” explained Ziegler. “It was an assignment I was uniquely qualified for with my background and approach to art and science.”

“My process is a collaborative one,” shared Ziegler. Early on she involved North Thurston School District students in creating concepts for the art installation intended for the Lacey Food Bank. She held several workshops to help come up with concepts for the art installation design.

First, Zeigler presented data and imagery demonstrating the need to and benefits of rescuing food. During the workshop, she gave students the creative constraints for the art installation and encouraged them use their imaginations. Constraints like involving many people, using durable materials, and illustrating how rescuing food at home, in school, and at work is a solution to hunger that positively impacts our lives and shared environment.

With the knowledge of food rescue solutions, students worked rapidly to generate impactful, thoughtful, and creative installation ideas. “There were so many amazing ideas,” said Ziegler. “We had great conversations during the brainstorming process. The students and teachers were really into it.  It was quite a wonderful experience. I collected their themes and presented their ideas to the food bank.”

This collaborative and creative process resulted in a sculpted art design to be made of concrete. The six-foot sculpture will have three hands coming out of the ground like roots that turn into a tree. Within the tree is an apple that reflects the imagery of the earth. With this centerpiece in mind, students were asked to collaborate again with Ziegler to create artwork that would adorn the pathways leading from the sculpture to different food bank structures and elements – including a spacious courtyard and large garden area.

“We decided to install a mosaic of leaves in the concrete walkways,” said Ziegler. During subsequent educational workshops with Ziegler, almost a thousand students designed and cut-out images that resulted in leaf shaped stencils. Each student’s leaf is unique and contains a visual message to adorn walkways around the Lacey Food Bank.

While food rescue is at the heart of all art installation elements, the primary focus is on developing and sustaining a healthy Lacey community. According to Ziegler, “The students we chose to work with live near the yet to be built Lacey Food Bank. This is their future. They and their families are going to take on food rescue – for their own benefit, to help others, and to better their community.”

If you would like to help rescue food anywhere in Thurston County, please visit www.thurstonfoodrescue and get involved.


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