Q&A with Artist, Courtney Ignace
By Bridney C.
It is a pleasure to interview Courtney Ignace for the Sweet Scoop.
Courtney is a 23-year-old food and visual artist from Traverse City, Michigan. She attended the Stamps School of Art at the University of Michigan where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design with a minor in Entrepreneurship.
She has been an artist all her life and considers oils to be her visual medium of choice. She first got into oil painting in high school and prefers to paint on wood.
In the past few years, Courtney has transitioned to creating social art in installation and food. She brands herself as a "food artist" or "eating designer" which is reflected in her art and social media.
BC: What does your artwork represent? What is your favorite artwork you made so far?
CI: I can’t say all my artwork represents just one thing, but to answer your question as honestly as I can, the trend in my work tends towards bringing people together to share the beauty in the small things. Whether it's an insect treat or the intricacies of a hand-made texture. "Feast For Tiny Farmers" is by far the most ambitious and successful artwork I’ve helped create. That one took nine months to conceive, build, and produce. That’s the longest I've ever worked on a project. A more average project like a painting typically takes me between four weeks and five hours to produce.
BC: Describe your artwork from the Hygienic Art Galleries' Salon des Independance show. How did you combine art and food into your piece?
CI: For the Salon des Independance show, I created "Tiny Farmer’s Turntable." This piece involved a record turntable, cricket-flour macarons, mealworms, myself, and the viewer. I stood behind a stall beckoning people to visit. People who showed interest were invited to consent to eat an insect. Once consent was established I told the viewer about the impact pollinators have on our food system. About 30% of the food we eat is pollinated, therefore 30% of the food we eat relies directly on insects and other pollinators to ‘farm’ it for us. The stall I was standing behind had a turntable on it with a plate where a record would be. The plate was sectioned off into a pie chart of ~33% and ~66% sections. In the smaller section, I had arranged green cricket-flour macarons. In the larger section, I had arranged brown macarons. I explained that the green cookies in the smaller section represented the food that we eat that is pollinated. The viewer was asked to point to a section on the plate while I spun the turntable. When the turntable stopped, whichever section the viewer’s finger landed in was the kind of treat they were asked to eat. The gimmick being, both kinds of macarons had cricket flour in them, even though I implied that only the green ones had bugs in them. This represented the fact that, although 30% of our food relies directly on pollinators to produce, 100% of our food relied on insects indirectly. Insects aerate soil, compost debris, and consume harmful pests; these efforts allow us to eat in the way that we do. I explained this to the viewer and asked them if they’d like to thank the farmers who grew their food. Most said yes. I’d then open the curtain covering the inside of my stall. On the shelf inside the stall was a bowl of mealworms standing-in as the composters and soil aerators that helped grow the ingredients used to make the macarons the viewer had just eaten.
BC: What is one piece you are currently working on or you recently finished?
CI: I haven’t been actively creating personal projects since the onset of this quarantine. I’ve done a few sketches here and there and have been trying out new recipes when I get the chance. My job has been keeping my creative mind busy for the past few months editing videos together. While i wouldn’t call it “art”, it has been creatively fulfilling. I do have a few projects on hold at the moment that I’m not quite ready to talk about publicly. However, the one I’m most excited about has everything to do with a painting of mine called "Prawn Hell" from a few years ago that was unfortunately stolen from me shortly after finishing.
BC: Can you talk a bit about your brand you and your friend, Siena McKim started called Ento-mouth? How do you incorporate it into your art?
CI: Ento-mouth is the team-name Siena and I created to frame our work within. It’s like a mini art collective that is incorporated into our art when it represents our names as the creators.
BC: If you were an insect, what type would you be and why? Is this insect in particular important in the process of growing vegetation that is consumed by people?
CI: Ha, I like this question a lot. I think I would be a mole cricket because I’m not always what’s expected, but I'm multi-talented and cute as hell. Mole crickets are important because they burrow into the soil like moles which aerates the soil and they produce humus.
BC: If you could choose a theme song for your art, what would it be?