Color for the People

By McColl Center for Art + Innovation

Site-specific installation and culinary artistry by Leah Rosenberg

Color for the People is a site-specific exploration of Charlotte-inspired color and taste by fall 2017 McColl Center artist-in-residence Leah Rosenberg, encouraging the public to reflect on the relationships between experiences of color, flavor, and people.

An interview with Leah RosenbergMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

When she arrived in Charlotte, Leah Rosenberg had never heard of muscadine grapes or pimento cheese. But those two iconic foodstuffs would provide the fall 2017 artist-in-residence with an entrée into the city’s culture—and become integral components of Rosenberg’s installation, Color for the People.

An interview with Leah RosenbergMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

The San Francisco-based artist spent several months learning about Charlotte through what she termed her "color safaris.”

An interview with Leah RosenbergMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

During each of her weekly explorations, she identified individual hues that represented aspects of the city she wanted to investigate through color, form, and food.

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

Each week, Rosenberg painted the walls and furniture in McColl Center's first-floor gallery in a color she encountered just days before, each new one overlapping the prior color to create a striped effect with “windows” repeating the colors along an adjacent wall.

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

For “The Blue Hour,” McColl Center’s guests sipped azure-tinted champagne garnished with blueberries frozen into delicate ice cubes. Special color cocktails and bites were shared during weekly "Color Bar" events, deepening visitors' sensory engagement with food and drink to match the color of the week.

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

“[Color Bar] provoked a conversation between people who are sitting with each other. The point is to be immersed in this color.”

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

“I took a walk to acclimate myself up North Tryon Street....On every menu there’s something to do with pimento cheese.”

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

"At the little market on the corner there was a basket of what I thought were tomatoes. In mid-September, I went to the regional farmers market and, to my delight, it was Muscadine Day. I got my real introduction to the flavor with a taste testing and realized, ‘This is a real thing here.’”

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

Together the colors presented a vivid snapshot of Charlotte, including the golden “Mums in Bloom” of the natural world.

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

Charlotte's metropolitan scenery was visible in the safety orange of “Road Work Ahead," and the architectural oddity of the “Big Pink on South” building.

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

Amid growing social tensions and extreme xenophobia, Color for the People created space for remembering the vital roles that art and food continue to play in fostering shared experiences of pleasure and joy, which are, as the artist says, “medicine for times like these.”

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

“The end [of the artist residency] is always a little bit tumultuous for me because I feel, ‘Will I have gotten to tell the whole story? All of the moments and all of the colors?’”

Leah Rosenberg: Color for the PeopleMcColl Center for Art + Innovation

Rosenberg's work continues to explore our connections to color, food, our expectations, the ways in which we provide and accept hospitality, and all the layers of meaning that give flavor to these experiences.

Credits: Story

Color Bar was made possible, in part, by the generous support of students in the Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts programs at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). A team of students from the program participated each week to help Rosenberg with prep, presentation, and service.

All photographs by McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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