The Cultivated South, 2011

The Cultivated South, 2011

From The Kitchen Project, Alabama Adventure Weekend and the first oral histories collected with textile farmers and workers across the region, Natalie builds a deep relationship with the Southern Foodways Alliance, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the University of Mississippi. Projects envisioned by John T. Edge are realized across many symposia. All of these collaborations will eventually inspire and become the basis of Project Threadways, established in 2019 (read an entry on Project Threadways here).

In 2011, Alabama Chanin creates garments and costumes for an opera at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Annual Symposium,The Cultivated South. The performance is inspired by Leaves of Greens, a collection of poems from the Ayden Collard Festival, an annual community-wide event in Ayden, North Carolina. Composed by Price Walden and performed by students from the University of Mississippi, the opera is staged at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford, Mississippi. All costumes are hand-sewn by Alabama Chanin. 

In a 2012 collaboration with Drew Robinson and Nick Pihakis, Natalie smokes a collection of white Alabama Chanin wedding dresses for the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 15th Annual Symposium, Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmasters, Places, Smoke, and Sauce. The barbequed dresses, hand-sewn and discolored by fire and smoke, are displayed on bed frames, a common barbeque device. They are displayed alongside photographer Landon Nordeman's inspiring images of pitmasters, pigs, and barbeque culture, at the Powerhouse in downtown Oxford, Mississippi. 

In 2013, Natalie speaks at the SFA Symposium entitled Women at Work: Shake, Rattle, Roll, an exploration of the ways in which “women farmers, artisans, and cooks have forged cultural identities, challenged gender conventions, built businesses, and driven economies.” As a side, she also “dresses” Kim Seiverson for the Cake vs Pie debate. “Cake’s position as the cultural currency for Southern women is of such importance that I have worn a dress. This is the first time I have worn a dress in more than twenty-five years,” says Kim. 

In June of 2014, the Friends of the Café Dinner Series begins at The Factory Café. Award-winning chefs from around the country prepare dinners, benefiting the Southern Foodways Alliance and a range of other organizations, which bring guests and community together to explore food, storytelling, and sustainability around a common table. 

Learn more about the Southern Foodways Alliance and follow along @southfoodways.

View Landon Nordeman's work and follow his incredible and beautiful adventures @landonnordeman.

Learn more about Landon’s “artists of the barbecue pit” here.

Learn more about John T. Edge and his work here (books and True South) and follow along on his adventures here

Follow Drew Robinson, pitmaster of dresses @drewrobinsoniii.

Thank you to Nick Pihakis, friend, inspiration, and cotton picking buddy.

Plan your trip to Helen’s BBQ in Brownsville, Tennessee here

Plan your trip to Grady’s BBQ in Dudley, North Carolina here

Slide 1: Framed poster designed and printed by Tanya Combs, Winding Wheel Press, celebrating the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 2013 symposium, Women at Work: Shake, Rattle, Roll, photograph by Robert Rausch; Today, this piece still hangs in the kitchen of The Factory Café (See Slide 5)

Slide 2: Landon Nordeman photograph of Helen Turner of Helen's BBQ in Brownsville, Tennessee;  Barbecued wedding dress by Alabama Chanin, cooked with the help of Natalie’s friends Drew Robinson (“dress pitmaster”) and Nick Pihakis (“BBQ spirit master”) for the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 15th Annual Symposium, Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmasters, Places, Smoke, and Sauce, 2012, photograph by Erin Dailey/Alabama Chanin

Slide 3: Barbequed dresses by Alabama Chanin at The Powerhouse in Oxford, Mississippi, photograph by Erin Dailey/Alabama Chanin; Barbeque glove, photograph by Landon Nordeman 

Slide 4: Barbeque coals, photograph by Landon Nordeman; Barbequed top and skirt by Alabama Chanin; Geri Grady of Grady's BBQ in Dudley, North Carolina, photograph by Landon Nordeman; From Melissa Hall, Southern Foodways Alliance: “Geri’s sweet potato pie is kind of famous. We ordered enough to feed the whole North Carolina High on the Hog Field Trip. On the phone with her, I said, ‘We'll have 100 people, so at 8 slices a pie, I'll need 13 pies.’ Mrs. Grady said, ‘No, honey don't figure it like that, people don't want a skinny piece of pie. They want a big piece. Figure six pieces a pie and tell me what you need. Then I'll add a few to that.’ I needed seventeen pies. She made twenty-five. There was no leftover pie.” 

Slides 5–7: Alabama Chanin costumes for the Leaves of Green opera and traditional Lane Cake recipe—a staple in Alabama since the late 1800s—from Angie Mosier’s beloved collection, photographs by Robert Rausch

Slide 8: “Shake, Rattle, Roll” poster from the Southern Foodways Alliance’s 2013 symposium Women at Work, seen through the window of The Factory Café counter with chefs (and friends) Ashley Christensen, Lisa Donovan, and Angie Mosier, gathered before their Friends of the Café Dinner in June of 2017, photograph by Abraham Rowe (read an entry on the Friends of the Café Dinner Series here)