ARTS

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June 2, 2015

Plants for poems: arts collective brings project to campus


Evangeline Reid / The Chicago Maroon

 

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Evangeline Reid / The Chicago Maroon
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Evangeline Reid / The Chicago Maroon

For two days last week, a Pilsen-based arts collective called Cream Co. brought a unique exhibit to the Logan Center’s patio: It allowed members of the community to trade a poem for a tomato plant. “We feel like the value of one plant equals the value of someone taking the time to write a poem,” said Patrick Thornton, a member of the group. The project, General Economy Exquisite Exchange, offered several unique tomato varieties for the event. (For example, the Jaune Flamme promised to be round, apricot-colored, and both sweet and tart.) Thornton called the initiative a social practice art project. “It’s not an object, it’s not a performance, but it always seems to be about engaging with the community.” The group brought an almost identical project to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art last year. One of the members of Cream Co. lives on the South Side, and the group has brought projects to the Hyde Park Art Center, as well as other communities around Chicago. A previous project documented the color of tomato plants through their life cycle and then painted the colors in squares on a large canvas.  “As part of our practice we collect data and then we figure out how to use it,” he explained. “So I don’t know what we’re going to do with the poems we get today.”  They found another short-term purpose at the conclusion of the project on Wednesday evening, when poetry students read from the collected poems outside Logan.

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