Food Fighters is a summer program for teen artists between the ages of 16–18. They learn about food justice as it relates to income inequality and create new artwork on the topic.
Food Fighters piloted over a six-week period in the summer of 2015. Students were nominated by public school art teachers and art educators at Joan Mitchell Foundation. In July, the students began internships at three different New York City food justice organizations: Drive Change, Mt. Sinai Health, and Harlem Grown. The students also met weekly at CUE Art Foundation where they shared their internship experiences and heard from guest artists and activists including Tanya Fields, founder of The BLK Projek; Katherine Gressel, independent curator; Melissa Danielle, founder of Bed-Stuy Bounty, Integrative Nutrition Health and Community Food Coach, and Just Food Community Chef; Tattfoo Tan, artist; Robyn Hillman-Harrigan, founder of Shore Soup Project; and students at the High School for Public Service Youth Farm, a program of BK Farmyards.
Drawing from their internship and workshop experiences, the students created new artwork including paintings, neighborhood maps, and socially engaged projects. They used Civic Art Lab, a pop-up community center in Brooklyn, as their studio. The program culminated in two exhibitions, one at CUE Art Foundation in Manhattan where the focus was on student work, and another at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn where the students’ artwork hung alongside works by emerging and established artists in the exhibition In Search of One City: Sensing (in)equality, organized by Katherine Gressel.
Food Fighters was developed in collaboration with the Artist Volunteer Center, a nonprofit that aims to get artists out of their studios to participate in volunteer projects that involve humanitarian work, in turn offering participating artists the resources and opportunities to help their artwork flourish. Food Fighters was funded by individual supporters of With Food in Mind and a Pollination Project grant awarded to the Artist Volunteer Center.