THE ARTISTRY OF SPICESExploring the world through spicesClan Jetties, Penang, Malaysia. Turmeric, clove and Chinese Five spice on watercolor paper, 20”x 30”, 2012
INTRODUCTIONBrookie Maxwell travelled to Malaysia with a U.S. State Department grant to produce The Artistry of Spices.The program included spice investigations in Penang, a Children’s Spice Workshop, and an International chef’sevent at the Ambassador’s residence In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.Painting with spices as pigment on U.S. Marines volunteering with children from the Chow U. S. Ambassador Paul Jones at the chef’s eventthe Clan Jetties in Penang Kit Foundation at The Children’s Spice Workshop
Spices have played a huge part in shaping our global history and culture. Wars were fought and civilizations rose and fell overspices. Spices were an impetus for global exploration; the volatile, lucrative establishment of spice routes helped to definemodern trade. Spices have been valued for their taste and their aroma, their medicinal and magical properties and for dyes andcosmetics for over 5,000 years. Throughout history, people have used spices for everything from preparing feasts, toreligious ceremonies, to embalming the dead. Spices were more valuable than gold. Spices like pepper were items of status,medicine, spirituality, and sexuality that were the exclusive right of the wealthy and powerful. Today spices are used and sharedby all cultures: they can be grown, harvested and traded between countries through fair and sustainable industry. Malaysia wascentral to the Ancient spice trade, and spices are still a central part of life in Malaysia today.
INVESTIGATION IN PENANGMaxwell and cookbook author Catherine Jones travelled to Penang, which was a central location duringthe ancient spice trade. They collected spices for the programs, and tasted traditional spice basedMalaysian foods like Assam Laksa. Jones documented their trip with photographs, and Maxwell createdpaintings of their investigations, using spices like Turmeric, Nutmeg, and Clove as pigment. Theirexplorations helped them form a better understanding of Malaysia’s role in the ancient and modernglobal spice trade, and how spices impact Malaysian life, as reflected in Malaysian cooking today - aspice filled fusion of Malaysian, Indian, Chinese and Eurasian cuisine.Buckets of chili, turmeric, cumin, and curry at the spice shop in Penang
CHILDREN’S PROGRAMChildren’s Spice WorkshopMaxwell directed a Children’s Spice Workshop for twenty-one children from the Chow Kit Foundation. TheChow Kit Foundation works with refugees, orphans, and other underserved populations. The Children’sSpice workshop took place at the residence of the US Ambassador to Malaysia, Paul Jones. The programwas designed and piloted in collaboration with Shira Weinert and CAE, at PS5 in Inwood, New York City.
INDIVIDUAL EXPLORATION USING FIVE SENSESThe Children’s Spice Workshop was an individual and global exploration of the world of spices. It began withthe “Mysterious Artist’s Letter”, and the “Seven Steps”, which outlined the goals and steps of the programin an imaginative fashion. Next was a five - sense exploration of more than forty international spices,including Nutmeg from Penang, Galangal from China, Turmeric from India, Grains of Paradise from Ghana,and Sassafras from the U.S.A.“Spice It Up!”, a spice dance component, followed, and then a spice based discussion on global history,geography, and cultural heritage using large world maps and smart phones. Children chose their favoritespice; volunteers helped them to research its country of origin, how it is grown, harvested, and imported,and what recipes are cooked with it.
USING ART AND SPICES TO BUILD HOPEThe children’s spice program is designed to counteract the difficulties the children have experienced withunexpected positive experiences, reinforcing the idea that life is full of beautiful surprises as well as negativechallenges. The program builds hope, self - esteem, and empowerment; it supports engagement in other positiveactivities such as education and positive exchange between countries.Our volunteers from the US Marine Security Detachment and the U.S. Embassy provided personal attention forevery child. Children and teachers from the Chow Kit foundation enthusiastically embraced the workshop. Therewere language barriers, but interpreters and visually based teaching materials made the lesson plan easy tocomprehend. Although volunteers and children attending were from diverse communities, they focused on whatthey had in common, like the desire to reach out to others, and missing their families during the holidays.
TEACHING PROCESS AND VOLUNTEER STAFFTeaching tools like appreciative based learning, five senses exploration, and self esteem building vocabulary - inaddition to the high ration of volunteers to children - helped every child to have a wonderful experience.The volunteer staff, including members of The US Department of State, The US Embassy, The US Marine CorpsSecurity Detachment in Kuala Lumpur, and the Malaysian American Alumnae Partnership - as well as adult andteen family members and close friends from Malaysia and the USA - provided the luxury of a 1-2 ratio ofvolunteers to children. The Ambassador attended the program and spoke individually with the children and thevolunteer staff, which was deeply appreciated.Adult volunteers and children tracing the spice routes and finding where the spices come from.
CHILDREN’S WORK AND CHILDREN’S STORIES The children were focused, attentive, well behaved, and hard working. They touched our hearts, and attachments were made. Two interactions with children were of special interest. After she completed her spice label, ten - year old Alliyah looked at the world map again and asked to see the whole wide world in the round. She may have been trying to figure out how to get to her volunteer Margaret Jones’s house in the US, as they were quite taken with each other. Margaret Jones’s son Liam showed Aliyah Google Earth on a smart phone. Alliyah’s eyes went wide as we showed her Kuala Lumpur, and then pulled away from Kuala Lumpur to Malaysia, to Asia, to our beautiful blue planet floating in space.Working on the spice label drawings and the children’s spice labels
HEARTSeven year old Muhammed drew a picture of a broken heart on his paper. He then wrote, “I love you” andthe names of the adults who had helped him that morning: volunteers Suk Ling and two Marines from theSecurity Detachment for Kuala Lumpur. I pointed this out to the adults, and they came over and gaveMuhammed a hug. We then produced a large bandaid, and Suk Ling placed it on top of the drawing of thebroken heart. He beamed from ear to ear, declared himself all better, and ran out to play.It was a magical fix like something out of the Wizard of Oz. And yet what happened was at the heart of thework. The workshop gave Muhammed the courage to tell strangers that his heart had been broken and hewas in need of help. He told us in a picture. His cry was answered and valued in a communication that wason his terms. It was a call and response. The first step in any healing process. Because it was successful, heknows he can use art to ask again, and again, building his own healing community step by step.
A DAY OF HAPPINESSAs part of our self esteem building program, each child got a moment in front of the group to talk about theirspice and what the created during the day. Additional responses from the children included statements like,“this is a day of happiness”. The Chow Kit Foundation said they had never been invited to a program such as thisbefore and they were most grateful. Everyone had an opportunity to speak from the heart to the group aboutour day.Children presenting their spice and country of origin.
KIDS DECORATING SPICE CUPCAKESCatherine Jones provided a spiced based lunch, desert, drinks, and snacks as a further exploration of the theme.
FREE PLAY TIMEThe day finished with free playtime in which children could choose to play basketball or soccer, supervised bythe volunteers.
SPICES CONNECT US ALLThe children sang a traditional Malaysian goodbye song to us and they were off. Spices and love- and the foodswe cook with them - connect us all. The Chow Kit Foundation called us the next day to tell us the children werestill talking about spices.The Children’s Spice Workshop was not open to the press but a press release featuring highlights of the daywas sent to the press that afternoon, and members of the press were provided with photographs and theopportunity to interview the artist. The press release is included in this document.
THE SPICESAjwain - (seeds)- India, Pakistan Ginger - (root and flowers) - China, Japan, Pakistan, Nepal,Amchur- (Mango Fruit) - South Asia Myanmar, IndonesiaAllspice - (berry)- Jamaica, Mexico, Central America, Palestine Grains of Paradise - (Meleguata / Alligator Pepper) - Ghana,Bay Leaves - USA, America, India, Pakistan, Mexico, West Indies GuineaBerber spice- (a spice mixture of chili peppers, garlic, ginger, Juniper Berries - Europe, North Americadried basil, korarima, rue, white and black pepper, and Lemon Grass - (grass) – India, Asiafenugreek) – Ethiopia, Eritrea Licorice - (root) – Europe, AsiaBirds Eye Chili -( pepper) – Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Mustard Seed - (seed) - India, NepalIndonesia, Ghana, Uganda Nutmeg - (seed and Mace fruit) - Grenada, Indonesia,Caraway - (seed, black)- Europe, North Africa and Middle East Malaysia, Papua New GuineaCardamom - (seed)- (green and black) India, Malaysia, Australia Pickling Spice - (cinnamon, pepper, mustard seed, bayChili - (pepper) - Philippines, Central and South America, leaves, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns,Indonesia, China, Korea, Japan, India coriander, juniper berries, mace, and cardamom)Cinnamon - (stick) - Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia Poppy Seed - Afghanistan, ThailandClove - (bud) - Pakistan, Zanzibar, Indonesia, Malaysia, India Saffron - Spain, Kashmir, IranCoriander - (seed) - / Cilantro (leaf) Middle East, Central Asia, Salt - (mineral) - China, India, Thailand, SpainIndia, Mexico, North America Sassafras / File Gumbo - North America, Eastern Asia,Cubeb Pepper – Java, Sumatra Mexico Sesame seeds - India, Sub - Saharan AfricaCumin - (seed) - Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Morocco, Star Anise - (seed) – China, India, IranEgypt, India, Syria, Mexico, Chile Sumac - (berry) – North America, AfricaCurry leaves - India Tarragon - (leaves) - France, Russia, USACurry Powder – (coriander, cumin, turmeric ginger, black Turmeric (root) - South Asia, South Indiapepper, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves) – Tamarind - (plant) - Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Tanzania,India Omar, Dhofar, South Asia, AustraliaFennel - (plant)- Mediterranean Vanilla - (bean)- Madagascar, Reunion, Central and SouthGalangal – (blue ginger plant ) – Indonesia AmericaGaram Masala – (black and white pepper, cloves, cinnamon, Zeera - (black cumin plant) Pakistan, India, Bangladesh,cumin, cardamom) – North and South India Afghanistan
ADULT PROGRAMThe International Chefs eventThe event held at the Ambassador’s residence was attended by fifty guests, including invitees of the USEmbassy and the Department of State, staff members, chefs, and their assistants. The program began with anintroduction by US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul Jones, moderated by Catherine Jones.
SPICE LECTUREMaxwell presented a power point presentation on spices, and a short lecture about the history ofspices - and how spices, once a cause of war, have become objects of peaceful global trade. She talkedabout how cuisines change as global societies change, and how spices bring diverse communitiestogether through food, medicine, cosmetics and perfume. Bringing diverse communities together is acentral theme in Maxwell’s projects.
THE CHEFSMANJU SAIGALSpices from Penang and Chow Kit Market in Kuala Lumpur were featured as part of the global selection ofspices in the table settings and in the chef’s presentations of tasting menus. Indian chef and “Spice Guru”Manju Saigal created Kesari Murg / Saffron Chicken with Lemon Rice, Shish Kebabs, and Achari Sabzi /Pickled Vegetables.
AMY BEHChinese chef Amy Beh created Kiam Chye Ark / Duck and Salted Mustard Green Soup, Cit Kut / VegetarianHerbal Spiced Soup with Otak – Otak / Spicy Fish Custard, and Bee Koh / Traditional Glutinous Rice Desert inScrew Pine Leaves.
ROHANI JELANIMalaysian chef and cooking school teacher Rohani Jelani created Chicken Redang, Nasi Kunyit / TurmericFlavored Rice, Masak Lemak Udang / Prawns with Pineapple in Coconut Milk, and Onde – Onde / PandanLeaves. (Brookie Maxwell’s Spice paintings are on the wall behind her.)
CATHERINE JONESCatherine Jones created Chocolate pots with Garam Masala, Curry Ice Cream, and Spiced Cookies -classic western deserts featuring Asian spices.
RESPONSEThe Children’s Spice Workshop and the International Chefs Event went exactly as planned. This can beattributed to good planning meetings, an organized, professional team, a creative and positive exchange ofideas, good collaboration, and a closely connected volunteer staff.At the International chef’s event, the presentations were artful and the spice themed environment inspireddiscussions and encouraged connections between countries. The food was innovative, fresh, and delicious.Response was very positive. Press interest was strong: ten reporters interviewed Maxwell, Jones, the fourchefs, and Ambassador Jones. The Star wrote an article, included in this document, and Tattler Malaysia isconsidering a feature.
PARTNERS AND SUPPORTERSIn Malaysia:The U.S. Department of State, The US Embassy in Malaysia, Ambassador Paul Jones, Catherine Jones, ThePublic Affairs office at the US Embassy, Anita Ghildyal, Riazurrahman Sadayan, Chew Wing Foong, IsabelMacLeish, Nava Apputhurai, Leni Abdul Latif, Wan Intan Safinaz Ab Hamid, Nur Farizan Zulkifli, Wan Andra WanIsmail, and Mariati Dato Mohd Yusoff. Chefs Manju Saigal, Amy Beh, Rohani Jelani, and their assistants. Thehousehold staff of the US Ambassador’s Residence headed by Jennifer Lim, The Household staff of U.S. DeputyChief of Mission’s residence, the U.S. Embassy General Services Office.For the children’s workshop: The Chow Kit Foundation, Suk Ling, Hong Rich Vernon, Ellis Maxwell, Allie andHale Jones, Margaret Jones, Liam Jones, Alec Chapin, The Malaysian American Alumnae Partnership, and theMarine Security Detachment Kuala Lumpur.In the U.S.A.:Designer Milton Glaser, teaching artist Shira Weinert, Gallery 138 assistants Laura Gooch and Chanel James.
PRESS RELEASEPRESS RELEASEPress OfficeEmbassy of the United States of America Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaTelephone: (603)-2168-5000Fax: (603)-2148-9192Visit http://www.facebook.com/usembassykl Follow us http://twitter.com/usembassyklATTENTION: NEWS EDITORSJanuary 3, 2013U.S. ARTISTRY OF SPICES PROGRAM HELPED CHILDREN LEARN ABOUT THEIR WORLDKuala Lumpur, January 3, 2013 – Learning about spices was made easy for children through “The Artistry of Spices” program sponsored by theU.S. Embassy during a workshop for children with U.S. artist Brookie Maxwell at the U.S. Ambassador’s official residence on January 2, 2012.Through the workshop, young guests from the Chow Kit Foundation enjoyed learning about spices from around the world and compareddifferent types of spices to develop sensory and cultural awareness. They had a most aromatic “school” day where they used taste, smell,sight, hearing, and touch to explore spices.The program participants expanded their knowledge by drawing, reading, writing, and researching online to learn about family, culture,geography, and global history – all through spices. They looked on the world map to see the countries of origin of the spices and talked howspices are marketed and the ways spices are transported - everything from donkeys to jet planes. They tasted familiar spices like curry, andnew spices like Berber spice from Ethiopia, Juniper from Sweden, Grains of Paradise from Ghana, and File Gumbo from America. In the “Spiceit up!” part of the program, children created spice based dances – ending with a bit of Gangnam Style. They chose a favorite spice, and madetake home spice jars with their own hand made labels.Throughout the program, the children and volunteers shared lunch, spicy cupcakes and chai tea created by Catherine Jones, wife of U.S.Ambassador Paul W. Jones. Ambassador Jones also attended and spoke with children and volunteers.Seven year old Muhammed drew a picture of a broken heart on his paper. He then wrote, “I love you” and the names of the adults who hadhelped him that morning: volunteers Suk Ling and the U.S. Marine Security Detachment from the Embassy. Touched by his comments,Brookie Maxwell then produced a plaster, and Suk Ling placed it right on the drawing of the broken heart. He beamed from ear to ear, said hewas healed, and ran out to play.At the end of the program each child spoke on camera about the spice each of them had chosen, and where it comes from. They showed offtheir spice labels with pride. “This is a day of happiness,” said 12 year old Shakila. The children sang a traditional Malaysia goodbye song to usand they were off. Spices and love- and the foods we cook with them - connect us all.
BROOKIE MAXWELL BIOBrookie Maxwell is an artist, a curator, and the founding director of Gallery 138 in New York City.Maxwell’s personal art projects are designed to heal and engage diverse communities. Current personal art projectsinclude Exodus, an art installation about New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and River, a project aboutthe Hudson River. Current group exhibitions include For Panzi, a national touring exhibition in support of Panzi Hospitalin Congo.At Gallery 138, Maxwell produces solo and group exhibitions and other presentations in partnership with museums,corporations, governmental organizations, and NGOs. Recent gallery projects include Art and Finance Now: exhibitionsand dialogs, co produced by the International Center for Photography.Maxwell’s work is held in many public and private collections. Her work was recently chosen by the US Ambassadors toMalaysia and Djibouti through the State Department’s Arts in Embassies project. Images from Exodus were recentlyexhibited at The New Orleans Museum of Art as part of the permanent collection of the Amistad Research Center.Earlier in her career, Maxwell founded and directed Creative Arts Workshops (CAW), an arts - based NGO. She designedand created two art parks in Harlem and numerous community-based permanent public art projects. She designedprojects in collaboration with artists including Christo and Jeanne Claude, Sol Lewitt, Al Loving, Milton Glaser, DavidJohns, and Alex Katz to create public art projects for The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Bellevue HospitalCenter, and The Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the State of New York. CAW’s projects used the arts to teachsurvival skills, leadership, and community building to one hundred inner – city at - risk children, their multi stressedfamilies, and their communities. Her programs are still used to address homelessness, substance abuse, HIV / AIDS, andgender based violence through inspiration, education, empowerment and hope.Maxwell has received awards from the Mayor of New York and the Borough President of Manhattan. She was recentlyinterviewed by Penelope Green, and by Michelle Agins, for The New York Times.Maxwell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 from The School of Visual Arts, New York. In 2008, she conductedpost - graduate studies with C. Daniel Dawson at Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies. In 2011, Maxwellattended Women and Power: Leadership in a New World, at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School ofGovernment.