Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Inspired Turkeys of Leah Guenther

I have had the good fortune to spend the last three Thanksgivings with the talented and inventive Leah Guenther, who, each year, has brought along a supplemental Turkey of her own creation. Inspiring visually, conceptually, and digestively, Leah's turkeys all have sweet expressions, are hilarious (just by virtue of their being), and are cleverly assembled. Behold...

2006 (the debut)
The Bread Turkey

The Sweets Turkey


The Lettuce Turkey

Three-Quarters, aerial:


Notice how body parts were carefully selected for form as as they could possibly represent function. I love the variation of gullets from year to year, as well as wings and tail feathers. To me, they all embody a very Proud-to-Be feeling-- I think this comes from their festive tail feathers, especially. The spirit of these turkeys also conveys to me idea of 'imagining what could be, and making it happen'. Leah made something new by freshly combining what was around. I love this mode of thinking and find that some of the most satisfying solutions come out of this process.

For Thanksgiving, it is especially poignant that while so many turkeys are killed and consumed, some are also being created anew...

While Leah resists being considered the artist that she truly is, her creative accomplishments extend beyond the turkey realm. Leah spearheaded the creation of 826 Chicago which is the Chicago chapter of the National 826 Writing, Reading and Publishing non-profit organization geared to helping kids develop themselves outside of school. One of the most beautiful and touching collections of writing and drawings that I have ever seen, A Sunday Afternoon Hotdog Meal sprung from the hard work and creativity of Leah Guenther, her 826 Colleagues, and the Kids of 826 Chicago. This book contains short essays about what the 826 Writers (and Artists) have found to be noteworthy about their experiences of living in Chicago. The collection is sweet, hilarious, and well-crafted, just like the Turkeys. And it has that Proud-to-Be quality about it that makes it very joyful to behold. Consider obtaining a copy for yourself, or supporting the 826 National Organization.