This installation is a meditation on hunger. There are 925 million people worldwide that are hungry, mostly in Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Rice has always been their staple. These facts are at the very center of Mary Giehl’s installation, Rice is Life.
This installation is not simply about hunger and people in distant lands, but also about roots and connectivity between people and places. The chaos of lines brings to mind global maps with airline routs, road maps, and water lines. The map of the world brings order back to the chaos for Giehl, who has hung the bowls according to the geography of greatest hunger, where rice is the crucial food that sustains life.
To hang the individual bowls, Giehl imbedded red threads like a vascular system into her rice bowls, underscoring the very concept that brings life and rice together. Suspending each bowl speaks to the fragility of nutrition and health in those places that rely upon rice as the primary food source, a fragility that resonates even more strongly in the thinness of the vessels themselves. The installation also requires visitors to be careful not to disturb the bowls and threads a further reminder of the fragility and delicate balance of rice and hunger in the international community.
Hunger is not just about distant lands and peoples. This installation drives home the realization that hunger exists, even thrives, around us. The Everson Museum, for example, is in one of the ten poorest census tracts in North America, hunger and need are all around us. This installation, using art to build conscience and advocate for change both locally and globally, illustrates that art can be part of our solutions.
When Rice is Life is taken down on July 27 from 12:00 to 5:00 pm, the public is invited to participate. The bowls will be given to those that would like them in exchange for a donation to the Everson Museum or the Food Bank of Central New York.