This figure is a vessel of my memories growing up subjected to and surrounded by hunger in the Caribbean and the U.S. The boy’s belly is distended, his arms and legs slim, his ankles swollen. Despite this, he steps forward, his gaze held high, reflecting what’s around him. His belly drains tea onto the ground beneath him, marking where he stands.
My family learned to subsist on very little—a million creative ways to stretch food to feed a dozen people. My grandmothers, to whom I owe the world, would soothe my hunger pangs with tea. This ritual was routine; the warm, sweet liquid tricked me into thinking I was full. My body holds onto those memories and every day I drink tea to make the hunger pangs go away.
Fountain engages with care from the recipient's perspective. Because hunger is the primary communicative medium, the work asks us to consider the labor required to keep this emptying vessel full. When I refill it, I am a caretaker, at times a performer, attempting my best impression of those who have cared for me.
- Njari Anderson
The Dorner Prize is an annual juried competition that invites RISD student artists and designers to create new installations, performances, programs, or digital encounters that engage the public by using the RISD Museum’s object collections, public spaces, and digital platforms. The Dorner Prize, named for distinguished early 20th-century RISD Museum director Alexander Dorner, is made possible by a generous anonymous gift.