Michael Swierz, Mississippi Spice Rack

Gathered onsite from points spanning the length of the Mississippi River watershed, Mississippi Spice Rack recenters the daily experience of culinary seasoning around spice plants native to the river’s course. Six spices, which many people living on the North American continent have never encountered or heard of before, are placed on the same kind of spice rack one might find in their own kitchen. The spice rack asks the viewer to consider the ways the settler colonial project has eroded their own immediate organoleptic reality by impounding their sensorial intimacy with the local environment. In contrast to the foraged food fad that regained popularity in the early 21st century and effectively exotified these foodstuffs, the spice jars instead expose the ways even seemingly innocent cooking herbs such as parsley, sage, and thyme serve as tools for Eurocentric supremacism to usurp authority over the everyday act of eating.

While English common names are used to describe the plant species on display, each of these plants is in fact known by many other names in the many first languages of the Mississippi River Basin. “Mississippi” in the title refers to the great river Gichi-ziibi, a waterway likewise known by many other names. We should know these names.

 Fully vaccinated visitors are invited to carefully open up each spice jar and imagine a recipe they would create with the aromatic virtues they encounter. Please promptly reseal the jars afterward so that others may enjoy the aromas, too.