Thanksgiving Fun: Artistic things to do with fruits and vegetables

Summer by Guiseppe Arcimboldo by fuzzyshoe

If your family is anything like my family, when we get together with young children we like to do an activity that everyone can participate in. Since everyone in the US is gearing up to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, TheGardenLady thought you may want a creative fun idea for this holiday; something that you can do with family and friends of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest. Of course, even If you are a reader of this blog who does not celebrate Thanksgiving, you might want to consider ways of using the idea in your home when you have your get together.

So what can you do with vegetables and fruit other than cook, bake and eat them? Let us look at some creative uses others have made with fruits and vegies.

Painters have used vegetables and fruit in their art either in a still life or part of a painting. My favorite fruit and vegetable artist is Italian ‘mannerist’ painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo whose paintings using fruits and vegetables to create portraits of people were popular in the 16th Century. Later artists like Salvadore Dali in the 20th Century revived an interest in Arcimboldo’s paintings. His creations are fantastic. Arcimboldo’s complete works can be seen on this website.

Vertumnus / Vegetable Man, 1590-1591, Guiseppe Arcimboldo by cbertel

Of course over the years artists have attempted art using fruit and/or vegetables. Today a young living artist is creating paintings using vegetables. Her works are reproductions of great Western art except that her reproductions are made only using vegetables. This Chinese artist is Ju Duoqi. You can see some of the paintings she has reproduced using vegetables.

Here’s a video of Ju Duoqi doing her artwork:

Besides two or three dimensional art using fruits and vegetables, if you are a musician you can make interesting music from them. Have TheGardenLady readers seen performances by the Vegetable Orchestra?  See here.  You can hear a full musical performance using nothing but vegetables.  Listen here.

So my fun suggestion for your family and friends’ get together is to try your hand at becoming a vegetable and fruit artist. Ask everyone, no matter what age, to bring at least one vegetable or fruit to the get-together. The host’s responsibilities are to: provide a digital camera to take photos of the finished art work; also provide paper for each participant to use to lay out his creation. (Paper can be from the daily newspaper, or from a roll of white freezer paper, or craft paper etc.) Should someone want to try to create a sculpture, the host should provide tooth picks and skewers. And provide the left over fruits and vegetables and parts of fruits and vegetables from your cooking. The more vegetables and fruits, the better.

Give everyone the opportunity of making his own creation. But they can work in teams if there is a very young child who needs help. They can spread out on the floor to work. Use the tarp used for raking leaves to place all the vegies and fruit on so that people can get them easily. Show some examples from the videos. Simple instructions are that the vegetable art piece can be two dimensional like a flat painting or it can be a three dimensional sculpture using the skewers and toothpicks to hold the piece together. Everyone has to share at least parts of the vegetables they brought.

Of course, you can carve your vegetable. Carving can be, but does not have to be, just pumpkins. Some clever and simple carved art can be seen here.  When each artist finishes his or her masterpiece, a photo should be taken of each participant’s work of art. The art work can either decorate the table or if they are photos, can hang on the wall.

At the end of the art session, be sure that each participant helps the host and hostess clean up any and all of the mess. If the vegetables and fruit cannot be used for cooking after the get together and if no one has animals that will eat the leftovers, be sure to compost everything the next day.

If you find that you or one of your guests is a budding Rembrandt of Vegetable Art or even another Arcimboldo, please share a photo of the masterpiece with TheGardenLady readers.

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