The Mala Meal Project is a ritual designed by artist Mary Anne Davis to invoke a feeling of calm, community and abundance.
WHEN: August 25, 2012 @ 3:00pm
WHERE: Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, New York
A mala is a set of 108 beads used by Hindus or Buddhists in order to keep count of mantras or prayers said over and over again. Japa or prayer repetition is a tradition present in most religions "although the religions of India generally give it more emphasis as a specific discipline" (from Wikipedia). The Mala Meal Project metaphorically replaces the bead with a bowl and a meal for a mantra or prayer. The 108 bowls are made at davistudio, a pottery studio in upstate New York, and people from 8 to 80 are invited to help glaze the bowls. The finished bowls are then placed on the ground in a circle and 108 people are invited to join the circle. 10-12 faith leaders from varying traditions, including secular humanists, are invited to offer a blessing in their tradition and bring a symbol of their faith for the center of the circle. Everyone is then lead through a ritual washing of hands prior to eating a special meal prepared from local, seasonal food. The meal is eaten with the hands in resonance with the non-industrial world.
As an artwork, the Mala Meal Project is first a beacon of hope : it represents an affirmative look at local food systems as a viable way to serve and feed a local population. Second, it brings a highly diverse population together under the rubric of something we all do everyday; eating a meal. Coming together and sharing a meal creates a space for each participant to enjoy the simple act of eating while interacting with new people curious about art, ritual, performance and interacting within or maybe outside of the perameters of an expected event or experience.
This view of food for such a large group is rendered possible through this crowd sourced fundraising campaign empowered by Kickstarter. The Mala Meal Project has been successfully performed on a full scale 4 times: June 21st, 2002 it was performed at Art Omi in Columbia County, New York. In July, 2005, it was part of the Convocation opening for the Resurgence conference, Earth and Religion at Bard College in Rhinebeck, NY. In 2007, it was held at Digital Earth, a conference about global mapping held at UC Berkeley in California. In 2008 it was performed at Stony Point Center for a Presbyterian women's retreat.
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