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April 4, 2018

Mainebiz Food Insider: Food and art join forces in Snow Pond school project

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
A breakfast sandwich sculpture is one of the many works of art that will be on display this spring at Augusta-area restaurants, courtesy of Snow Pond Academy for the Arts studio arts class students. The Feast Your Eyes exhibition is based on menu items of the restaurants at which it will be on display.

Patrons of Augusta-area restaurants will be served up some art along with their food in the coming months, courtesy of students at Sidney's Snow Pond Arts Academy.

Students in Sonja Fraser's studio arts classes have created works drawn from menu items at seven area restaurants. About 70 students are taking part in the Feast Your Eyes project.

One of the goals of the exhibition is to show how food brings community together.

Fraser said students also had to learn about business, particularly marketing, as they pitched the exhibition to restaurants and found ways to feature specific menu items.

"It was a collaborative effort," she said.

The project was inspired by a talk by Myron Beasley, an associate professor at Bates College, who spoke at the school about the sociality and culture of food. Beasley, who teaches African-American and American Cultural studies "believes in the power of artists and recognizes them as cultural workers," his website says.

The restaurants chosen were places the students have been to or would like to go to, Fraser said.

The school, which is on the Route 23 campus of the New England Music Camp, has about 140 students from 53 towns, in grades nine through 12, and combines arts education with traditional academic classes. It's in its second school year.

Christine Durgin, director of community relations for Snow Pond Center for the Arts, said the school's art focus is not only for students who hope to have a career in the arts.

"It helps connect students to reality," she said. "If you want a career in the arts, it doesn't necessarily mean sitting and playing a guitar all day." But she and other school officials also said arts education is a foundation for future learning and success.

"All the skills that arts cultivate are ones that employers want," said Snow Pond Center for the Arts Executive Director John Wiggin.

Art is already on display through April at Slate's restaurant in Hallowell. Other restaurants that will display the students' art are Augusta restaurants Red Barn, Otto's on the River, Riverfront Barbeque, Bagel Mainea; (in addition to Slate's) Hallowell restaurants The Quarry Tap Room and The Liberal Cup; and Peppers Garden and Grill in Winthrop.

What's on the wish list?

Fraser last week said a restaurant that featured pasta would complete the menu.

"We'd love to sculpt some meatballs and spaghetti," she said.

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