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Reinventing the Meal: Flavor and Flow

We’re glad that Danielle Evans was never allowed to play with her food as a kid.

She’s now spent years making up for lost time, wowing Instagram (@marmalade_bleu) and the food world in Columbus and beyond with her food-based typography and art projects.

This time around: inspired creations from arguably, the rap world’s two biggest stars, served in sweet and clever schemes.

We’ve obsessed over things she’s cooked up before, but in an issue where we’re highlighting those doing unique things in the food and drink space, you think we’re not gonna talk to someone about projects called Drake on Cake and Kanyegg?

Let’s dig in:

What made you want to do art in this manner?I find the world around us is full of inherent meaning, especially food, because eating is a shared experience. Memories, politics, various movements are wrapped up in everything we imbibe and use. When these materials are wielded into something artistic, the work absorbs those messages as well. When the pencil first hit the scene, it was a stark contrast to the elegance of a fountain pen. The working class used it to take quick notes that didn’t fade like chalk when brushed away, so conventional use gave it a fast, scrappy context. Now that the pencil is ubiquitous, its voice has diminished. Since using objects is fairly new, their meanings are obvious and can play to or against the overall artistic concept.

Obviously, what you are doing is much bigger than playing with food, but in a sense, you are playing with the elements of food and the colors they have to create art. When you were younger, did your parents have to constantly remind you to not play with your food? What do you say to people who say not to play with their food? Food play didn’t fly in my house when it came to meals. I vividly recall trying to carve the mashed potato mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind during dinner, which was squashed immediately. However, I grew up bringing in geographical cookie maps to sweeten my book reports, made full scale replicas of historical sites out of cake and candy for history class. My teachers were flexible and often hungry, so I found myself rewarded for experimentation and also seeing food as a vehicle for non-culinary ideas early on.

I’d encourage everyone to find the playfulness in their everyday lives. If our meals are strictly utilitarian, we miss out on greater lessons found in unconventional experimentation.

What about hip-hop compels you to incorporate it into your art? I found myself in the intermediate part of my career in 2016, the fuzzy spot where one feels accomplished with still much to learn. I started listening to Drake, Kanye, and Frank Ocean, and found them grappling with similar issues: the fickle nature of their industries, wondering who to trust, how to fall back in love with their music. Kanye and Drake are particularly raw, flipping between invincibility and self doubt dependent on the bar. These lessons resonated with me, which I began to channel into my current body of work. The Drake work is the brainchild of Joy the Baker, aptly named Drake on Cake. When I realized we had respective rap mogul projects moving, I decided to collaborate on her album, so to speak. “Glow” was a clandestine crossover.

Besides Kanye, are there any other artists you have plans to do projects on? Perhaps some Tyler, the Creator? I’d love to incorporate a little Frank Ocean, honestly. He speaks to the solitary moments of my life, a sun drenched walk in my neighborhood, a blustery night star gazing, laying by the pool on a long day. The translation of these moments into visual art requires a little more thought. Cardi B is also a consideration of mine in part because she is opulent and brash, enviable while over the top. Rap translates well to the gratuitous nature of American culture and how some view visual artistry.

Do you have a rough estimate count of how many foods you’ve used or how much foods it took to create specific projects? (i.e. how many eggs did it take to make the “Through The Wire” project? How many gemstones are on the Kanyegg?) Way less product goes into these pieces than one would suspect. “Through The Wire” took about a dozen eggs, only a quarter jar of peanut butter on the sandwich gif for Tobacco Free Florida. There are about four hundred and twenty five Swarovski crystals on my Kanyegg, which took about three weeks to apply, plus shipping times. I’ve learned to eyeball quantities and very rarely have to reevaluate my purchases. The visual restriction produces the novelty; if presented with X amount, you will have to problem solve to make the most with what you have. Rather than wishing for more, you become grateful for less. There’s a life metaphor.

Do you ever eat your creations once they are finished? If you have, do you ever feel guilty chowing down on your art that you painstakingly worked on? If you haven’t, is it ever tempting to just want to take one bite?More often than I care to admit! Certain projects don’t make the cut, like dairy- or meat-based work, most of my egg projects, though I have pawned a few meringues off to unsuspecting hungry visitors. However, almost anything baked will end up in my mouth. Unlike a stylist, I ensure the work is real and made to be feasted upon visually and literally. If I’m not planning on eating later, I’ve noticed I subconsciously won’t pick the most visually appealing produce, or bake my pies long enough. In a related sense, my weight fluctuates when working with sweets vs. fresh produce. Because I’m so fastidious with my quantities, I’ll often be down to the last snippets of something and have to tell myself not to snack. Sometimes I’m more successful than others.

If you had to create a typography design of Columbus, what objects or food would you use to define it? When traveling, I tell people Columbus is a proud food city, so this question is difficult! Beyond the ethnic diversity, we’re also competitive with major cities for authenticity and quality. I’d likely choose a series of similarly colored items: Hot Chicken Takeover’s spicy wings, red and orange macarons from Pistacia Vera, a red pint of Jeni’s, a practice cone for the Crew and a small football or “the” hat for OSU. Al Pastor tacos from Los Guachos, Red Dragon ramen from Fukuryu, red tipped tillandsia from Stump, Dirty Frank’s dogs with accoutrements would prop out around some knick-knacks from Flower Child and Smartypants Vintage. Spices and produce from Sagara would seal the deal.

To keep up with Evans and her recipes for art, visit marmaladebleue.com.

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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