Sustainable and Organic Art


September 2, 2008

Sustainable and Organic Art
Local artists use farmers’ market inspiration in their latest works

Meals aren’t the only thing inspired by the produce at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. This summer, seven artists from artsTribe will create works of art influenced by the bounty found at this Madison weekend hotspot.

artsTribe ( is a collective of local visual artists working in various mediums including photography, collage, mosaic, abstract and ink. The group grew out of a UW-Madison Extension course offered a few years ago titled, “The Exhibition Workshop.” The course taught artists how to put together a successful art exhibit.

“When the semester ended, we had built a great chemistry in the group and didn’t want it to be over,” says Aimee Reid-Rice, a mixed media and fiber artist. Almost the entire class — students and teachers — wanted to stay connected and formed artsTribe. Now, the artists get together to create works of art based on a chosen theme. This summer at the farmer’s market, they explore sustainability and the connection between art and the farmers’ use of the land as a creative medium.

Some of the artists creatively integrate vendors’ physical materials into their work: weaving grasses into textiles, drawing with ink made from beet juice, and painting with beeswax. Others cull visual inspiration from the offerings at the weekly market. “You look around and see red and white stripped beets and purple carrots. It’s an artist’s dream,” says Tom Linfield, an ink artist who plans to draw 100 pepper plants as part of the project. “At the grocery store, peppers all look the same. At the market, they are different colors, gnarled, and wonderfully formed.”

Like the farmers around them, artsTribe artists are beginning to see the fruits of their labor. Their booth at the farmers’ market is growing, both in terms of art on display and interest from the public. “At first we had nothing to show. Now people stop by every Saturday to see the works on display and talk about art,” says Linfield.

This summer’s theme culminates with an exhibition at the Food for Thought Festival downtown on September 20, 2008. The final exhibit will be shown at the Overture Center March through June 2009. A spring show was scheduled to give farmers time to view the work before the summer and fall harvests.

To learn more about artsTribe, visit their booth at the Dane County Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. through October 25, 2008 at 25 West Main Street, in front of AnchorBank. To visit artsTribe on the Web, click here.

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