march art crawl

March Art Crawl is an invitation to create, collaborate, and dialogue about creativity with new collaborators.

Creatives will exchange creative pieces during the month of March and co-choose their delivery method, online or off.

Creatives will be matched up randomly by @chrisjcluff and can share whatever medium they wish to explore.

Please contact chrisjcluff@gmail.com for further details.

You can sign up to participate on this form.

momentum

I love when simple ideas, that actually do start simply, evolve into something complex. That’s my expectation in all cases. As a new concept or idea is released into the wild, any number of predatory behaviours can shorten its lifespan. Sometimes the thrill of designing a new project comes solely from watching the complications pop-up that seems to just squish out from every crack in the process. For me, negativity is ignorable; opposition, though, is delicious.

And I can’t tell you how times an excellent idea gets bogged down in pointless attempts to define and redefine the original concept or the wet blanket of outcome based thinking extinguishes the creative spark all together. Academic thinking can do that, it turns motivation into a headwind, and breaks momentum’s spine with overthinking.

Opposing something really cool and intentionally souring the creative process is cruel. And in many cases can shut down a project in its infancy. But for me, I want to see the negative, I want to look into its eyes and wait it out. That tension feeds back to me so much information that I feel like my process would be thinned without it. It is easy to be so hostile and infertile that future ideas are stopped before ever starting. It takes stellar energy and steely dedication to holding on to old outdated mindsets in the face of change, and those that hold these characteristics, I want them on my team.

I never really expect projects to expand smoothly from their inception. And to be honest, I love it when projects get ‘into the weeds’. I remember back in the day when I ran restaurants being ‘in the weeds’ was akin to crashing and burning. But even in those crazy moments of lineups at the door, food flying in and out of the kitchen, customers coming up to the servery for a meet and greet, and my boss asking for a special dinner for some VIP – the energy that exploded out of controlled anarchy was intoxicating. This beta testing is the only opportunity to get real time, real world, real feels for a new idea.

At the heart of all learning isn’t that what we really should expect? A hard won point makes for memories and resilience in the next match. Getting buy-in for a passion project should not be a simple matter. I know from experience that even finding a passion for fixing my energy on is not a simple pursuit. So getting new projects off the ground inevitably has to be like building an airplane in the air. I will risk and so I hope others will too. I will work hard and so I hope others will too. I will exist in the ambiguity of change and I hope others will too.

bread

This bread lab is, hands-down, one of my favourite cooking labs.

To be able to make bread from scratch is a skill that everyone should master. And the excitement that explodes from the students as they inspect their custom loaves is a joy to share.

In making a simple loaf of bread, we commune with history and connect with thousands of years of culinary evolution.

The relationship between flour, water, and yeast in our modern-day classroom is like a conversation with the past. The method of fermentation and baking that we use in the classroom looks very similar to the very earliest methods of bread making. And in following this path of food preparation we acknowledge the connection between us and every other cook who dared this same pursuit.

Michael Pollan in his book Cooked espouses the importance of basic ingredients, essential skills, and appreciation of the community or social element of cooking. I highly recommend this book and its partner Netflix series as essential media to consume. Pollan’s POV of ‘eat what you like, as long as you make it’ resonates with me and I pursue this foodie philosophy in life and in teaching.  I guess you could say it is my primary food rule.

Each and every student in my class, I hope, is starting to glimpse the power within these three tenets of the culinary arts – ingredients, skills, and community. In truth, I would include the fourth rule of sustainability. ‘What’ we eat on a daily basis has become as important as ‘how’ and ‘why’. As each student attempts to synthesize what they learn in our class with their daily decision making, they will quickly find out that despite their informed intentions it is exponentially more difficult to make clear choices. What is ethical? What is clean? What is healthy? All good, basic questions and all create opposing views or food rules. This dissonant process is an underlying part of learning where both flights and fails can provide learning opportunities. I often reassure students that it is okay if their brain cannot make their hands do as they wish. Many kids, very quickly, get what it takes to make a loaf of bread. And a few even enjoy what they have made…some do not.

The final products that my students produce often bare little resemblance to the demo dish that I produce or to the dishes of their colleagues or to the foods they have at home. Nor should they. I encourage the students to embrace the process and to track both their successes and failures. The differentiated outcomes are essential to deep learning in our cooking lab and connect to all aspects of learning. Not only does this process illuminate the importance of personalization of learning approaches, but it also vividly highlights the fundamental potential of process work.

The method and the set up for the method are everything in cooking. It is often referred to as ‘Mise En Place’ or ‘put in place’. No matter the fact that each brigade [cooking group] is provided with a common demo, ingredients, and equipment- how the group interprets the instructions ultimately drives outcomes. Each group through collaboration and negotiation must create a way through their understanding of their goal – in this case making a loaf of bread- and each small decision brings another opportunity for learning.

For me, the process of making bread is ultimately the end goal. I have had both great successes with some loaves and in other moments I have stumbled miserably. Regardless, I remain focused on creating opportunities for my students to make enjoyable, edible mistakes. And if the loaf in front of them is not as awesome as hoped, then maybe the next one will be…or the next one…or…