When Natalie Marsh, director of the Gund Gallery, booked the Feast exhibit, she envisioned promoting it with some kind of community dinner. The exhibition, after all, uses the simple act of sharing food and drink to advance aesthetic goals and foster critical engagement. The annual Student Affairs picnic that kicks off the school year seemed like the perfect event to blend with a community feast, and many campus organizations joined hands to make it happen.
On Wednesday, Aug. 27, a 500-foot table covered with white linens was set up along Middle Path from the south gates to the library lawn, complete with hay bales to use as seats and fresh-cut flowers as centerpieces. (Some guests also brought blankets and lawn chairs to create their own picnic areas on the lawn). Food stations were assembled, featuring dishes made from locally grown and sourced foods including fruits, vegetables, sausages and meats, many made into recipes provided by area farmers.
As has been the picnic tradition for the past eight years, the guest list included students, faculty, staff and their families. But this year, members of the Knox County agricultural community were also invited. Marsh estimates between 3,000 and 3,500 people enjoyed the event – 300 to 400 more than in years past.
Tacci Smith, associate dean of students and director of new student orientation, was excited about the possibilities of interactions among groups of people who may not otherwise have a chance to meet. “I think it was neat to have unique opportunities to sit on the lawn or talk to people you’ve never talked to before,” she said.
Marsh is appreciative of the collaborative efforts between the Gund Gallery and Student Affairs, as well as the contributions from Admissions, AVI Food Systems, Brown Family Environmental Center, Center for the Study of American Democracy, College Relations, Finance Division, Kenyon Farm, Kenyon Review, Library and Information Services, Multicultural Affairs, Office of the President, Office of the Provost and Academic Division, Operations Division and Philander Chase Corporation Land Trust.
She also hopes the dinner will encourage people to come back to the gallery exhibit that runs through November. “I, of course, would hope they would all have the opportunity to visit the gallery and connect their experience at the community feast with the approaches many artists have taken throughout the twentieth century and the current moment.”