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Phone books to mushrooms

Congratulations to Alexis Williams, recipient of our April award! Alexis plans to this summer collect several thousand phone books that will be sterilized, inoculated with mycelium, and assembled at the Ottawa Art Gallery into helical columns that will produce a colourful display of edible mushrooms that will star in a community feast. “The phone books,” she explains, “will become completely colonized with mycelium, changing their familiar appearance into soft white bricks. The bricks will grow together to make a solid, sweetly aromatic sculpture before the colourful display of oyster mushrooms erupt and blossom.”

Alexis’ project won’t be confined to the art gallery, however! She will be offering a phone book mushroom growing kit, ready to fruit, as well as instructions, to any restaurant, elementary school class, library, music festival, and community garden that donates 20 phone books or 50 mason jars. She also means to produce a free printed publication of information and instructions on growing edible mushrooms.

Alexis hopes that the project will begin to educate Ottawa residents about some of the environmental and health uses of oyster mushrooms and encourage local community gardens to grow mushrooms as food, as medicine, to strengthen their vegetables, and to clean the soil they use. You can learn more about Alexis and see some of her work on her website at http://www.alexiswilliams.net.

You are invited to take part in the project! Alexis is inviting schools, restaurants, and others to host living mushroom sculptures, looking for high school students to volunteer with her through the Art Gallery, and trying to collect as many unwanted phone books and one litre glass jars as she can. To get involved, visit http://www.alexiswilliams.net/wwff.html.

Funded by Ottawa, ON (April 2011)