Garden Variety Soda Fountain is a long-term public project that will center around a community garden, where S.E. Nash will grow fruits and herbs for the production of naturally fermented sodas, tonics, and bitters. The sodas will be served to the public at a series of tasting events and workshops hosted from a mobile soda fountain stand/sculpture.
One of the things that most excited Nash about moving to the Midwest from NYC was the ability to obtain land to grow food, and to engage with sustainable urban agriculture and food justice in the city. With this project Nash aims to develop long term-relationships and alliances with KC growers and people working to increase access to healthy food. The project will be carefully tailored to reflect the garden, community, and neighborhood in which it takes place.
For the past two years Nash’s work has involved fermented foods, and each piece or project has been dedicated to a specific fermentation substrate. This project harnesses their love for fermented beverages. As a tonic, an aperitif, a digestif, or just a thirst quencher, beverages can captivatingly transport the palette. The sodas served from the soda cart will be made using strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, elderberries, herbs, and roots grown in the garden. They will be measured for alcohol content – to keep it below .5%, which is the legal guideline of a non-alcoholic beverage. Most of the sodas will contain sugar, but there will also be non-fermented options for those who do not eat it.
The mechanics of the soda fountain sculpture will consist of a platform/ trailer that hitches to a bicycle. The bike will be used to move the soda fountain sculpture from place to place, but when the bike is taken away the structure will stand on its own. Its aesthetics will match Nash’s current sculptural work, and it will be built for outdoor weathering during the season it is installed.
Soda was originally created by pharmacists to deliver bitter medicine in the form of a sweet drink. Soda fountains were gathering places, and, in retrospect, the soda fountain recalls segregation, and the protests and sit-ins that took place at lunch counters during the Civil Rights era. These histories are underpinning the project and Nash intends for the stand to connect with our contemporary political situation. While the project will not be overtly didactic in its delivery, this contemporary soda fountain will be an invitation for nuanced discussions and dialogue to take place. Nash will also encourage engagement by designing a variety of workshops for the public in conjunction with the project. At least one will be geared toward families, with an art-making component inspired by the garden.
SE Nash is a visual artist and food fermentation experimentalist who moved to Kansas City from New York City in 2016. Nash’s sculptures and artistic engagements promote thinking about microorganisms. A food fermentation residency with Sandor Katz in 2014 was the catalyst to create sculptures that interact with vessels of fermented foods. These sculptures are constructed as environments and repositories for the vessels, each relating to research on specific fermentation substrates and histories. Part science workshop – part kitchen lab, the fermentation sculpture experiments are viewable in process and are harvested and eaten as a culminating experience of the exhibition.
Nash was born in Memphis, TN in 1980. They received an MFA in painting from Yale University in 2005 and a BFA in painting from the University of Tennessee in 2003. Nash is a current Charlotte Street Foundation Studio Resident.