Dumpling House

Collaboration with Emily Stover. 


“Jamestown ArtSPARK,” Jamestown Art Center, Jamestown, ND, USA  (2017)

“thinking making living” Catherine E. Nash Gallery/ University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA  (2014)

“Creative City Challenge: Maker Day” Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN USA  (2014)

“Art Farm DTour,” a farm, Reedsburg, WI, USA, (2013)

Dumpling House is a temporary public installation exploring collaborative making and sharing of dumplings in the context of local food cultures and agricultural systems.

Dumpling House is a place to experience a communal practice of cooking while immersed in an inspiring and soothing sensory environment. Cooking at Dumpling House reflects the adaptive modifications we make as we connect to others’ ideas, values, and cultural backgrounds. The cuisine that results isn’t homogeneous integration, nor is it a perfectly distinct articulation of individual identities. It’s a messy, swirling, steamy blend of authenticity and compromise and connection and practice, and we make it together.

Inside Dumpling House is a lively environment of teaching and learning, with participants fluidly switching between roles as new participants enter the dome.  

Soft invitations and physical cues draw audiences into dumpling making through a spiral kitchen shape, warm, steamy environment and bright, diffuse light. The invitation is completed through a simple script of welcoming questions asked by project volunteers and the artists, for example, “Have you ever made dumplings before?” and “What tastes like home?”

During the ten days of 2013 Fermentation Fest – A Live Culture Convergence in Sauk County WI, Molly Balcom Raleigh and Emily Stover built and occupied a swirling translucent structure that held a simple kitchen for making dumplings. Dumpling House was a temporary interactive installation that explored the collaborative making and sharing of food within the working landscape that produced its raw ingredients. Fermentation Fest, organized by Wormfarm Institute, is an annual food and farming festival that uses art and engagement practices to connect locals and visitors to the agricultural lands that sustain them.

What emerged from two weeks living and working in Sauk County, including more than 50 hours of public engagement over a communal table, was both as simple and as complex as creating filled dumplings.  Though the participation design of Dumpling House was focused on the social and sensorial act of learning and teaching an ancient food craft, the project’s participants initiated conversations that confronted complicated social themes of gender roles and equity, cultural appropriation, privilege, and the strained relationship between urban and rural populations.

In 2014 we brought Dumpling House to urban audiences in Minnesota, this time with a new custom canvas skin. We installed on the Minneapolis Convention Center  lawn for an event called “Creative City Challenge: Maker Day” curated by Northern Lights.mn, and on the University of Minnesota campus as part of the Catherine E. Nash Gallery’s exhibition “thinking making living.”

In 2017 we brought Dumpling House to Jamestown, North Dakota for the opening weekend of Jamestown ArtSpark curated by Northern Lights.mn.

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