Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Festival entrance

Event catered by Bishop Winery

The Sustenance, Feasting on Arts and Culture Festival kicked off on a cool Vancouver day in October. Artists, poets, musicians, and activists all gathered in the Roundhouse Community Center for an entertaining and informative evening of food security related activities. The Bishop winery catered the event with tray after tray of fabulous local concoctions, environmental organizations explained their achievements and future goals through various audio-visual displays, and artists spread out their wares for all to peruse and admire.

Cam MacDonald, 2009

Cornacopia installation

The Maiz es Nuestra Vida Exhibit created by the MAMAZ collective played a major role on the festival. Artists Marietta Bernstorff, Laura Alvarez, Noel Chilton, Favianna Rodriquez, Adriana Calatayud, Cristina Luna, Mariana Gullco, Emilia Sandoval, Nadja Massun, Lucero Gonzáles, Julia Barco, Luna Marán and Ana Santos expressed their concern about Mexico’s corn situation through collage, photography, painting, and sculpture.

Mariana Gullco, 2009

Noel Chilton was hand to give a brief speech (see below) about our objectives, to lead a workshop in metal corn ornaments, and to hand out flyers promoting the cause. Many visitors attended the opening and more will be streaming through as the festival continues in the Roundhouse exhibit hall with various events including an Erotic Food event and some Family Day activities. All the activities and exhibitions strive to motivate the public to eat locally, get active in supporting eco-friendly practices, and create art that pays homage to nature’s miracles.

Emilia Sandoval, 2009

Noel Chilton, 2009

Good evening. As you’ve just heard, I am here to represent our women artists cooperative MAMAZ ( Mujeres Artistas y el Maiz). Our objective is to raise consciousness in our community and abroad about the eminent danger that our corn crops are facing today. We express our concern about our native seeds through our art.

Favianna Rodríguez, 2009

You may be thinking that I don’t look very native, and you’re right. My roots stretch back to Germany, England, and Poland. If I were a plant, I would be the mother of all hybrids. My children have even more mixed up traits. 11 years ago, I exported myself from the United States to Mexico. Unfortunately, my fellow countrymen, including representatives from Monsanto, beat me to it. I would like to think my arrival in Mexico was more benign. Obviously, I am not genetically altered or I would be 6’2” not 5’2” and my offspring would be perfect clones of myself. I think my boys are pretty swell, but they’re not perfect. Now, I am here in your beautiful country because this white girl doesn’t need a visa while my brown colleagues do.

Laura Alvarez, 2009

Cristina Luna, 2009

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s a fact of modern day life. This is hard to swallow, but what is even harder to swallow is the invasion of genetically altered seeds from my original homeland to my adopted homeland. This is not only devastating for the farmers, but for the consumers and the population in general. The farmers get trapped in a vicious cycle of debt and dependency on foreign seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. The consumers get an expensive, unhealthy product, and the population starts losing its legends, traditions, and cultural identity, which are all centered on corn.

Adriana Calatayud

Marietta Bernstorff

We women feel especially effected. The cobs of corn plant are the female organs. Its grains have nourished babies, children and adults for over 8000 years in Mesoamerica. We mothers must now think about how to feed future generations. We can stuff them with foreign foods, and their bellies will be full, but will their minds and their souls?

This is a question we mothers and fathers and caregivers of future generations have to ask ourselves not only in Mexico, but all over the world. What can we do to ensure a safe, healthy future for our loved ones?

We, as MAMAZ members, are attempting to go just that through our art. Thanks for your attention. I hope you enjoy the show.
Noel Chilton
Fotos: Stain Rice

Corn ornament workshop

Noel Chilton at sustenance festival, 2009