|Gluten-free buckwheat batards|
Recently I set out to make some bread pudding, and after reading some recipes – all of which recommended brioche – decided to stop on the way and make some GF brioche. Not really knowing what constituted Brioche, I had to do some research. The first place I looked was Peter Reinhart’s Crust and Crumb. The irony of which truly made me laugh.
Peter Reinhart is affiliated with Johnson and Wales College in Providence Rhode Island. In 1976 – 77 – 78, I was in graduate school at The Rhode Island School of Design, right down the street.
Now Providence is pretty much a college town - there’s RISD, Brown, Providence College – but to snobbish art school students in late 70’s, Johnson and Wales didn’t count. It was a trade school, not real school. I remember looking askance at the J and W crowd in their white jackets, feeling aloof and artsy and superior in my painter’s pants and denim shirt, totally confident that my experience at RISD was preparing me to express my soul in ways that the world would find irresistible.
How the tables have turned! In all the years I spent making art I received less attention – and in many ways less personal satisfaction - then the past 24 months with their ovens full of breads. Chefs, not artists, have become the heroes of our culture, and while some do specialize in kitsch, (no names from me, but I’m sure you can think of a few) many make food that is as soulful and culturally resonant as any painting, photograph or 3-D piece.
Photographic collage, © Charles Luce
This is not a critique of RISD or any art school, but more a note of self-evaluation. It’s taken me a long time, with lots of meandering up and many paths, to find the creative outlet that fuses my all. I’ve made hundreds of photographs, written three novels, dabbled in woodworking and done building renovation. These have been satisfying and meaningful ventures, but now, as I blend flours and knead dough, I feel a wholeness that was missing with every one of the above.
So, to all you Johnson and Wales students – and faculty – I now tip my hat. Some of you – like some of my RISD colleagues – are going to go out there and make art, changing the world as you do. Could be that some of you will even discover that your destiny is paint, or sculpture, or photography – not pastry or brioche.
I do think the one important task for everyone, whether “RISDoid” or “Cuisineartist” is, keep digging. You might – like me – feel you’re Sisyphus, but given the patience and determination, you’ll find your bedrock. I have.
And it’s name is – food.
For a look at more RISD-era photos, click here.