An Invitation to the Feast

Laser-cut flashspun nonwoven HDPE garden, copper fruit, locally sourced secondhand dinnerware, hand-painted table runners, palm oil, rum, salt, honey, kola nuts, vinegar, peppers, water, community participation
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Charleston, SC
May 17 – July 6, 2019


This dining table is a vital component of Cry Joy Park— Gardens of Dark and Light, creating a platform where members of the community can come together to discuss issues facing the region. This space will be the site of four Luncheons in the Garden, where the public is invited to discuss issues pertaining to children and education, land justice, re-entry into society after incarceration, and food politics. In collaboration with local organization Ideas into Action, Ma will also host dinners that will recognize the efforts of key members and organizations on the ground in Charleston while elevating the disenfranchised and engaging in dialogues that can be translated into action. These dinners celebrate those who have contributed to the making of the paradise that is Charleston but might not have been invited to the harvest table in times past.


In 2013, the remains of thirty-six individuals of African birth or descent were unearthed on the grounds of the Gaillard Center in Charleston. These individuals and their reinterment have been the subject of many conversations and ceremonies in the city, including a traditional West African naming ceremony led by Dr. Ade Ofuuninyin of Gullah Society, which the artist bore witness to. Inspired by this ceremony, the artist has placed specific spices and ingredients utilized in a portion of this ritual, referred to as a tasting.


These spices are chosen for the symbolic blessings that they bestow. 

Palm Oil

Prevents rust, lubricates and soothes the body. It signifies a smooth and easy life, living a life without friction. 



Made from sugar, a libation that refers back to the Atlantic Slave Trade.


Salt derives from the ever-flowing and sustaining oceans, gives flavor to the elements of life. 



In West African tradition, it is said a person’s first taste should be sweetness. Honey represents a sweet and happy life.


Kola Nuts

Kola nuts have a long-lasting bitterness, and  it is said to bring long-lasting life, that has a sweet after taste. 



The sourness of vinegar is used to amplify the sweetness of other ingredients. Its fermentation is also vital to maintain digestive health. 



As a vegetable with many seeds, peppers signify a blessing of a fruitful life with lots of children, and the spiciness makes your prayers sharp. 



Everything needs water to survive. It symbolizes never having to be thirsty in life.

© 2019 Jennifer Wen Ma

Jennifer Wen Ma

Littlemeat Productions

New York, NY

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