New York (August 31, 2015) –The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is proud to present The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet, an art exhibition and Cathedral-wide initiative addressing the issues of food security, hunger, access to healthy food, local and urban farming, factory farming, diet, and the cultural and spiritual meanings of food. It follows the Cathedral’s ongoing tradition of visual arts exhibitions, including, most recently, Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral; Jane Alexander: Surveys (from the Cape of Good Hope), in collaboration with The Africa Center (formerly the Museum of African Art); and the 2011–2012 exhibition The Value of Water. In addition to the Cathedral’s longstanding art programming, The Value of Food also draws upon the Cathedral’s social justice initiatives spotlighting issues of hunger and human dignity, including the World Hunger Clock and the advocacy work of Cathedral Community Cares, including the Sunday Soup Kitchen, which has been a fixture of the neighborhood for decades. The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski, Dean of the Cathedral, wrote recently, “Whenever we put a great conversation of our day under the roof of this Cathedral, we endeavor to use liturgy and art—and other forms of discourse—to invite people into conversation. We not only want those conversations to be transformational to them, but also to call all of us into advocacy. We will use a food justice framework to engage people across faiths and cultures in an exploration of the benefits and risks of how food is grown and processed, transported, distributed, and consumed—asking also about how equitably all of that takes place.” The exhibition is guest curated by Kirby Gookin and Robin Kahn, who described the installation as follows: The Value of Food explores the dynamic and organic materiality of food and its integral role in sustaining human life. The artists in this exhibition work with food as a form of social engagement. Although their subjects and methodology vary, they each explore the intersection of food, art, commerce and community in order to engage the exhibition’s unifying theme: food justice. Installed in a circular path within the Cathedral’s 14 bays and 7 chapels, as well as throughout its gardens, the exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections: Water, Soil, Seed, Farm, Market, Meal and Waste, each representing a spoke of the cycle of food production. The Value of Food is premised on an egalitarian ideal promulgated by a growing number of artists in the aftermath of World War II that recognizes that the materials of everyday life—a burlap sack, a candy wrapper, or detritus found in the street—are equally suitable ingredients of the artist’s palette as a tube of paint. Since the 1960s, an international coterie of artists has expanded this principle to explore the representation and material use of food. Regardless of their method, they typically worked with food within the limited confines of a formal art gallery setting. Alison Knowles is a pioneer in this tradition, known for serving soups and salads to an art viewing audience since 1962. Daniel Spoerri, another innovative practitioner, opened up a functioning restaurant in a Parisian art gallery in 1963. It wasn’t until the 1970s that artists brought food back outside into the world, as when Carol Gooden and Gordon Matta-Clark opened Food, a cooperative restaurant formed as a “social sculpture” that employed and fed local artists in downtown Manhattan. The artists in this exhibition have been inspired to expand the possible uses of food as an art medium. They are employing a variety of inventive strategies—seed banking, urban foraging, rooftop farming, composting, cooking and sharing meals—to further explore how food defines the quality of our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Pull up a seat and join us at Tom Otterness’ Tables. Food becomes a meal only when it is shared. The Cathedral will also be presenting a range of workshops and evening programs for The Value of Food, some offered by staff, some by the artists, and some by guest speakers. The opening event on October 6th offers an evening discussion curated by Mother Jones, featuring renowned food writer and activist Tom Philpott, who writes the magazine’s “Food for Thought” blog; Tom Colicchio, co-founder of the Gramercy Tavern, founder of Craft and Colicchio & Sons restaurants and head judge on Top Chef; and Karen Washington, urban farmer, New York Botanical Garden board member and winner of a 2014 James Beard Foundation Leadership award. The panel will explore where we are now, who the food movement is leaving out, how it can broaden, how it impacts farmers, and what comes next.