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8 Extraordinary Greens

A participatory project exploring the value placed on food and artistic social practice through interactions with gallery visitors.

8 Extraordinary Greens was a participatory exhibition at Mixed Greens Gallery, May 3–June 2, 2012. With a series of “domestic microfarms” and a “farmstand”, the exhibition explored the value placed on food and artistic social practice through interactions with gallery visitors.

Jenna started experimenting with apartment-sized farming by converting her bookshelf into a mini greenhouse. She designed an efficient, sub-irrigated system for growing energy-packed edible plants in small, urban spaces.

To suggest a feeling of domesticity similar to her first experiment, household objects were modified to house the microfarms. For example: a dresser, a suitcase, a chair, a kitchen cabinet, a desk, etc. were adapted with a planter and lights.

As an urban agricultural design project, she envisioned a way to grow food in an anthropogenic landscape for all strata of citizens, but as an art project, she hoped to facilitate conversations about what we value: convenience vs creative effort, regenerables vs disposables, neighbors vs strangers.

The installation was also staged with references to Aesop’s fable “The Cock and the Jewel,” a riddle about relative value. In the story, a cockerel searching for food finds a precious gem, but rejects it, wishing for food instead.

A small “farmstand” served as a space for the harvest and sale of eight kinds of microgreens. The gallery visitors determined the monetary value of the exchange, based on a set of choices that support local, urban agriculture non-profits, like Added ValueJust FoodBushwick City Farms, and Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger. They then chose to take the greens or leave them to be donated to CHIPs Soup Kitchen.

** Nearly $1000 was collected and donated to local non-profits and pounds of microgreens were served to CHIPS soup kitchen visitors. **

These transactions were recorded in the form of a “receipt”- a print signed by both the consumer and artist. The consumer took the receipt and a duplicate was hung in the gallery to record the collective value of the exchanges over the course of the exhibition.

Most of the materials and services to realize this exhibition were donated, bartered, or salvaged. Special thanks to the following companies and individuals who have donated materials and services for the project:

Selected Press

“Urban Farmer In New York: Jenna Spevack” SELF China, Dana Poblete, August 2012

Weekday Weekly, Hong Kong, August 2012

“From Seeds to Sprouts, Greens Across Manhattan” Art21, Nicole Caruth, May 18, 2012

“Extraordinary Greens: Putting Farms Into Our Furniture” Fast Company – CoExist, Ariel Schwartz, May 15, 2012

“In New York City, Growing Greens As Art and Local Food” GOOD, Sarah Laskow, May 9, 2012

“Coming to Grips with Social Art: Eight Extraordinary Greens” Hyperallergic, Alissa Guzman, May 9, 2012

“26th Street Courts the Masses” Hyperallergic, Alissa Guzman, May 9, 2012

“As instalações ôrganicas de Jenna Spevack” Projeto Contem, Brasil, Marina Mantovanini, April 3, 2012

“Are These the Tiniest Microfarms of Them All? New York City Artist Grows Food Inside Furniture” TreeHugger, Jennifer Hattam, March 17, 2012

“Artist Jenna Spevack Turns Ordinary Furniture Into Clever Gardens With Her Microfarms”, Inhabitat/NYC, Matt Isaac, March 18, 2012

“How to Farm in Your Big City Apartment”, Christina Caldwell, March 21, 2012

“Artist puts gardens under furniture” Brooklyn Paper, Kate Briquelet, March 20, 2012