UT Art at White House State Dinner

Jeff Gibbons’s installation
Jeff Gibbons’s installation

University of Tampa art students beautified the White House State Dinner held this past Friday at Whole Foods Market on N. Dale Mabry.

Students were lead in this event by assistant professor of sculpture, Kendra Frorup, and associate professor of digital arts, Santiago Echeverry.

The dinner was a festive and light-hearted affair intended to mark the commencement of the environmental organization, Operation Bon Appétit.

The dinner was modeled after actual White House dinners and environmental discussions hosted by President Obama.

Apart from promoting planning for environmental sustainability, Operation Bon Appétit also aims to encourage friendship, relaxation and general well-being through social events and communal feasting.

It is an offshoot of the parent organization Earth Charter.

“Operation Bon Appétit seeks to address some very serious environmental issues in a setting that is light and relaxed,” said Echeverry, who served as program collaborator.

UT artists Hannah Hudson, Jeffrey Gibbons, Jacob Greatens and Barbara Stubbs were responsible for many of the elaborate displays at the White House State dinner.

Many other artists participated anonymously in the event, however, further enhancing the dinner’s atmosphere of well-being and environmental relevance.

“Not every piece of art had a name attached to it,” said Echeverry. “For many it was enough to believe in what they were doing.”

The various art installations took the form of environmentally themed table-scapes upon which assortments of food and drink were offered. These functional displays not only provided decoration for the event, but helped to visually illustrate the goals and visions of the Earth Charter.

Many of the art installations were highly ingenious. One was constructed entirely out of crushed soda cans while another doubled as a small garden plot of live grass.

“[It was] a tremendous success,” Echeverry said about the dinner. “Not only for UT and the environment but for the Whole Foods Market, as well.”

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