by Sara Bavar
“Art becomes an extension of the kitchen - and food a common base for expressing and sharing ideas.”
~ Tainá Guedes, Founder Food Art Week
It is said that art speaks where words are unable to explain, and that is how Tainá Guedes, author, artist, food activist, gallerist and visionary behind Food Art Week, communicates her message to the world. Looking at her work, one becomes aware of her purpose – to live thoughtfully and sustainably.
Tainá attributes a lot of her creativity to her diverse background – Brazilian, Japanese, Arabic, mixed European, Spanish Indigenous. Born in Brazil, to an artist and a Japanese literature teacher, she was surrounded by art and expression, setting the foundation for her future as a multidisciplinary artist.
When she was 11, Tainá’s world took a dramatic turn when she lost her father and began working with her mother in order to make ends meet – quickly becoming an adult. This experience not only exposed to the different class boundaries that existed in Brazil at the time, but it also encouraged a deep sense of empathetic perspective for people of all backgrounds.
Tainá’s compassion for others as well as her strong sense of purpose stem from the cultural values instilled in her by her single mother. “My mom was always very socially engaged, always fighting for people, especially women, but also for all kinds of people. Her vision has deeply impacted who I am. I saw all kinds of worlds.”
Photo by Kathrin Koschitzki
At the age of 19, she took part in the creation of an important Japanese restaurant in São Paulo. Tainá’s mission was to translate Japanese culture to a non-Japanese audience. “I did exhibitions and instillations inside the restaurant at a time when people were not used to experiencing art in restaurants.”
During her time at the restaurant, Tainá designed a lingerie brand, highlighting the Japanese culture. “Japanese culture has a lot to do with sex. It is an interesting mix of food, art and power, which you can see in old Japanese art.” Her creative vision led to the global success of the brand and established Tainá as an eccentric visionary, “I always have these unconventional ideas that somehow divide opinions.”
Wanting to further push boundaries and find meaning in her life, Tainá traveled to the Japan where she learned more about her Japanese heritage. It was here that she learned about Shojin Ryori, the Japanese Buddhist vegetarian philosophy. “After a food trip, I began thinking a lot about what would be good for my health as well as my strong relationship with animals. Considering all of these factors – my health, my feelings, my heart, my mind – I felt it wasn’t something for me.”
Tainá’s spiritual journey taught her Mottainai, a Japanese term conveying a sense of regret when something is wasted. This is at the core of her art and the message which she shares with the world. “I apply the concept of Mottainai in my work: reduce, reuse, recycle.” She believes in the importance of “no waste and responsible consumption”, making it her mission to educate people as well as herself. “It is important for all of us to know where our food comes from and if it is truly organic.”
Since 2011 Tainá has been expanding her vision to bring more awareness about our food source. She is diligently working with seed producers and farmers in order to find solutions to the challenges facing the organic food industry. “It is important to have transparency about the source of the organic products we buy and to be assured that they come from organic seeds.”
At Food Art Week, Tainá has dedicate 2020 to seeds and their importance to life on our planet. “We have lost 94% of the vegetable seed varieties in the 20th century. Without seeds we can’t produce food. If the seeds disappear, our food will disappear.” During the 2020 World Earth Day, Food Art Week organized a number of virtual events in order to educate people about food and its impact on our world and society.
Tainá’s determination and dedication have not been hindered by COVID-19 or social distancing. Partnering with the Office for Education for Sustainable Development, she has taken her creativity a step further and has been developing resourceful videos about our food sources. She invites audiences from all over the globe to virtually join her in her kitchen to cook with seeds and leftovers, and to get creative while learning more about our food sources.
Photo by Fabrice Labit
For Tainá, a mindful approach to food is all about encouraging broader transparency as well as building community and minimizing our impact on the environment. She is an example of an activist whose daily choices can positively affect the way we live and create a movement “addressing socio-political and environmental issues through food and art.
“We are many, and our eating habits have a big impact on our environment, society, and politics. It’s all connected. All the crises that we are facing and living through nowadays, which are many, are all connected to food. So through food, people can change their behaviors as consumers, which is easy independently of the government and any kind of system because you can do it yourself.
Tainá invites everyone to expand their boundaries and express their creativity through art. She encourages us to use our food to make a statement and advocate for the betterment of our food system. “You and your decisions are powerful.” So let’s use our power for good.
Click here to learn more about Tainá and Food Art Week.