Agnes Burris- My second and third meals

2 Birds with one Chris Stone Studio Visit

coffe and donuts in Chris' studio

coffee and donuts in Chris’ studio

I met Chris during the installation of the Concurrent show at EASE. When I learned that he was an artist and saw some examples of his work on his website I asked if I could come for a studio visit. That studio visit seemed a good opportunity to share a meal as part of Project Share. That meal consisted of a boston cream, apple fritter, and glazed sour cream washed down with coffee and tea all courtesy of Tim Horton’s. Chris found a knife and cut all the donuts in half.  We talked art, kids, Columbus, Miami, advertising, and the art-historical baggage associated with the human figure. Then George (the baby) got crabby. So Chris did the dishes.

Final Meal with Jane Hoffelt

Jane and I were hungry

Jane and I were hungry

One day at church Jane told me that she loved me. We had never spoken to one another before. She said that she loved all of the work I had been doing with the kids at St. Stephens and with the gallery and even my posts on our neighborhood listserv.  Obviously, I loved her back and invited her to breakfast. She expressed interest in my work so we decided to eat in my studio. I got lots of goodies from Lucky’s (i highly recommend the cheddar chive scones) and we ended up having a pretty intense conversation about peace, care-giving, death and sibling dynamics.  She gave me a copy of the children’s book she wrote with her sister and the current CMA catalogue of the artist Paul-Henri Bourguignon whom she represents.

Jeni Hansen Gard – Meal 3 – Melvin Curry

MelvinCurryToday was the last day of the project before the group shares our final meal together. I hate to make excuses but I had a busy week and I did not made time to share a meal with anyone I did not already know. So today in the late afternoon around 3:00 I took it upon myself to cross High St. and find someone to share a meal with. Forrest was so kind as to join me on the final adventure.
I have been thinking a lot about the homeless population that resides across High Street. I wonder how they can be so close in proximity but so far away in connection and relationship to the student body. As we walked down the street I had many concerns over how this could all go wrong (or maybe Forrest did) but I was confident that I could get to know someone and hear their story through sharing a meal. So I simply stopped and asked a gentleman sitting alone somewhere between 13th and 14th Ave off High Street. I ask him if he would be interested in having a late lunch with me at Chipotle and when he was a little hesitant I briefly explained the project. I told him I was spending the month sharing meals with people I didn’t know and that I had made a special ceramic dish set that we could eat from! He jumped up and accepted my offer and we walked one block south to Chipotle, and as it turns out even at 3:00 in the afternoon they have a line out the door. So I took our time in line as a way to start getting to know each other. The gentleman I asked to lunch is Melvin Curry. Melvin was born and raised in Cleveland but he is been living between Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus his whole life. He has one daughter and one granddaughter who both live in Cleveland and he tries to make it up every few months to visit. He worked for most of his life as a bus driver but was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Even though I would not have known from his appearance, he looks like a fit young man! But I can assure you he really does since I witnessed him taking his medication before we ate. He told me he was the first in his family of any generation to have diabetes. So we talked a little about the food system and what things may have caused his disease. He shared with me that when he got diagnosed he could no longer keep his job and when they let him go he no longer had any income. That is when he came down to Columbus to try and get assistance. He has his name on a list for Section 8 Housing a government subsidized housing project but for now he is living in the shelter. He has to be there by 8:00 PM and everyone who stays over night takes on some responsibility and they have to leave by 7:00 AM so he spends his days on the street. Melvin’s story really touched me. He doesn’t want to be on the street or in the shelter he just wanted to be back on his feet with a job but this disease has caused havoc on his body and his life. When we finally made it to the front of the line I told him to get anything he wanted. I chose a table and unpacked the dishes. It appeared he was equally as pleased as I was to share this experience together. He placed half of his meal on his plate and saved the rest for dinner. I filled up the cups with water and as we drank he reached into his bag and got out a new bottle of water that he had been saving and he shared it with me topping off my cup with his water. Giving leads to giving.
I hope Melvin’s story will give you a new perspective as it did me.

Meal #2, Coffee with Cathy Davis


I’m in the Wellstreams Spiritual Director Training Program, and a few weeks ago they assigned mentors.  Cathy, who was assigned to me, couldn’t make it that night, but she contacted me soon after to set-up a chance to have coffee together and get to know each other.  We had a deep conversation about judgment and grudge-bearing, and how indulging in these things is often just a way of avoiding grief.  I think the guy at the table behind us was curious and also amused by our conversation, which is how it should be.

Getting to know Aaron, David, and learning about Nigeria.

Getting to know Aaron, David, and learning more about Nigeria and music!

Getting to know Aaron, David, and learning more about Nigeria and music!

Aaron is the new director of music at Saint Stephen’s, and his friend David, also a musician, is visiting him from Nigeria. This Share a Meal was intended to make David feel welcome, and give me a chance to get to know him better while he was here in Columbus. I took a stab at making some classic Nigerian dishes, and according to my guests I did pretty well.

The menu was Jollof Rice, a spicy chicken stew, a slaw salad with lots of vegetables and cashew nuts, and for desert some coconut cookies called Sukhu Sukhu. A really great time!

Agnes Burris Meal 1 – Lunch with Khara

For my first Project Share meal I asked Khara to join me for lunch at a local restaurant in our neighborhood of Clintonville in Columbus, OH.  Prior to this meal, I only knew Khara in passing. Literally. Khara’s son attends the same elementary school as my daughter and we often passed one another walking our kids to school in the mornings.  She seemed really nice and interesting and I had been meaning to reach out to her in some way ever since the school year started and Project Share was the impetus I needed to try to turn an acquaintance into a friend.  We ate and talked and passed my baby, George, back and forth for more than an hour. We talked about our impressions of Columbus (we are both recent transplants), our work and our families. I discovered that, like me, Khara was motherless. Hers lost in a car accident; mine to cancer.

JENI HANSEN GARD – MEAL 2 – Mary Clare Rietz

Meal 2
Mary Clare Rietz
I met Mary Clare a few weeks ago at the EASE Gallery. I stopped by to make sure the dish sets were ready for the participants of Project Share. When I arrived I talked with a group of students from the University of Cincinnati who were planning for an exhibition in the space next month. Although I was unaware at the time Mary Clare was one of them. She called me a few days later and asked if I would be interested in collaborating on a project that she was planning for the space. I was curious but thought it would be best to meet in person. We planned a meeting in Cincinnati so my husband Forrest and I decide to make a day trip out of it to visit a few artist residencies and art museums. I brought the dish set with me so that I could share a meal with Mary Clare but also so that she could experience eating from a handmade vessel. It gave us the opportunity to talk about what dishware I should create for our collaborative project. The meeting was inspiring. Mary Clare came to art a little later in life after years of community-based work. Although she is passionate about drawing her art, very similar to mine, made a turn in focus to ‘connect people’. The move from the art object to an experience is not easy and it was a relief to talk with someone who had such a similar experience. Her ideas about bringing people together across difference align with where I think my work is going. We talked about the meaning of the family meal and the invisible strands that connect us all together. We are planning a visible interconnected web that builds up through the sharing of a meal together.I am thankful for the friendship that came from sharing this meal and looking forward to future collaborations.

Breakfast with Sharon

Meal #1

breakfast with sharon

I met Sharon last April when she was cooking in the kitchen of Summit UMC, and I was hosting a lunch in the next room.  We talked for about five minutes, and she let me try some of her recipes.  I was interested in who she is, so decided to ask her to breakfast as part of Project Share.  She’s an incredibly talented musician who plays in five different bands, a dancer at Fever Head,  and, of course, a talented cook.  We talked about art and spirituality for the most part, which are deep interests for both of us.