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Community-Based Work

and you will know its done when the oil stops bubbling

Asheville, NC

A Community-Developed Cookbook and Storytelling Performance

Developed through The Orchard Project Greenhouse (NYC), Hambidge Arts Culinary Arts Residency (Rabun Gap, GA) and Revolve First Draft Residency

Created by Lead Artist Mike Durkin

Assisted by Angelina Bruno


Contributed recipes from Lyric Antico, Dave “Doc” Brown from Doc Brown’s BBQ, Mike Durkin, Louise Pittman, Antanas Vainius, and Shunyu “AJ” Huang 

June 9th- June 17th, 2022


We think about traditions and rituals that bond us together.  We think about how we have a particular way we observe and practice food-making and eating.  Whether it is at a table, or in front of the refrigerator- food holds deep value to all of us.  This is a project that looks at these traditions and finds unions between multiple traditions.  


The recipes and accompanying installations look at important dishes to the contributors.  Holding value to the individual.  In gathering the recipes, I put emphasis on not needing the most amazing dish, but the dish that is made amazingly.  It doesn’t matter the complexity of the recipe, or the expensiveness of ingredients, but the joy it contains for the contributor and the memories and stories that accompany it.  What you will see is 6 recipes selected from over 100 recipes collected. Starting from October 2021, I spent time collecting recipes at a variety of different locations, meeting people, learning about recipes, hearing stories, and building community.  I would spend weekly sessions at the 12 Baskets Cafe from the Asheville Poverty Initiative, and at the AHOPE Day Center through Homeward Bound.



and you will know it’s done, when the oil stops bubbling  ('21-'22)


A Community-Developed Cookbook and Storytelling Performance
Created by Lead Artist Mike Durkin


Food is community, food is power, food is legacy, food is memory, food is love, food is home, food is life. Food has the capacity of bringing folks from different backgrounds together. Food is personal history, oral history, and oral tradition.  Multidisciplinary artist Mike Durkin plans to look at the role food and recipes play in different regions.  Whether it’s a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, or the recipe we’ve made because it makes us feel good, recipes hold special places in our lives. The project titled: and you will its done, when the oil stops bubbling. By tracing the past, present, and future stories around food we can forge deeper relationships with our neighbors as well as the environment our food comes from.  The story sharing circles will culminate into constructing a recipe book as well as a presentation and participatory community meal.      

Mike will work with participants recording their stories, being present while individuals are preparing their recipe, developing an intimate and personal connection through the recipes and sharing of food.  Focus will be paid on the unwritten directions of the meal preparation, such as knowing the meal is done by the sound of the oil, the smell of the caramelization, or other senses.  Mike will explore rituals for the participant, like only making a meal during a specific holiday, using a specific type of frying pan for the meal, or listening to specific music while cooking.  Mike will use these recipes to develop the cookbook.

With select participants, Mike will commission various forms of art that are a response to their contributed recipes.  These could take the form of video, writing, audio, photography, sculpture, or performance.  

All of us together will create a recipe book.  The aim of the project is to look at the diversity of community members to tell the story of the different regional recipes. The recipe book will look at the diverse population through the recipes, the recipes you grew up with, and the recipes we want to leave behind.  We will also look at the story behind the recipe, what ingredients, memories, settings to paint a vivid picture of the local  experience.  


That Time We Talked About Spaceships While Recreating Matisse’s ‘Le Bonheur De Vivre’ (2019)

A participatory live fiber art recreation and performance of Matisse's Le Bonheur De Vivre (The Joy of Life)
6-hour durational performance/discussion/recreation
Created by Mike Durkin and Jamie Grace-Duff
Commissioned by the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA

Music by Adam Vidiksis

The Renegade Company have created 5 performance works for the Barnes Foundation incorporating the works of Angelo Pinto, Henri Rousseau, 19th Century British Metalwork, Retablos from New Mexico, and Henri Matisse.  Renegade returns to Henri Matisse focusing on Le Bonheur De Vivre (The Joy of Life).  That Time We Talked About Spaceships While Recreating Matisse’s ‘Le Bonheur De Vivre’ is a participatory live weaving recreation performance. Weavers, dancers, and audience members come together to weave a recreation of Matisse’s famous work.  What happens when we give over to joy?  What causes us ultimate joy?  Through a series of story-sharing knitting circles steeped in folk traditions, Renegade invites audience members inside the process of recreation as well as to hear different perspectives on the painting.  This will lead to a live assembling of the artwork and dance celebration during the First Sunday event in November.  Audience members, performers, and knitters will share space, dance, tell stories, weave together to celebrate the true joy of life.


Our desire is to create an immersive environment for viewers to weave through, touch, lounge, and imagine within the Matisse painting. While not intended to be an exact replica, the colors, shapes, and forms will inform the final landscape which will be created through traditional techniques such as knitting, weaving, crochet, macrame, felting, and rug making.


It is our intention to make this project accessible to all ages and all abilities by providing a wide variety of materials and projects to create a visual terrain as varied as our stories, experiences, and skills.

Two Bridges Women's Shelter, Institute For Community Living (2019-2021)

Recreation Specialist/Artist-in-Residence

For 2 and a half years I was the Recreation Specialist at the Two Bridges Women’s Shelter in Two Bridges Manhattan.  I lead arts programming and mentorship.  The shelter is comprised of 100 residents battling mental illness with a combination of trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, and immigration related matters.  I used trauma-informed art-making activities to help process emotions, entertain, empower, and soothe.  Activities included: story-sharing, poetry-making, quilt making, painting, sculpting, and advising residents on furthering their art and education.  I led two programs daily each week with participation from 5-40 residents at a time.


For More Information, click here

(Kensington) Streetplay (2018)

Created and performed by The Renegade Company and members of the Kensington area community
Directed by Mike Durkin
A theatrical walking play starting at Kensington Ave and Allegheny Ave


“When you see me, you see one version of me; I’m so much more”.

What does Kensington of the past-present-future look like?  What are the individual goals of community members? What is the larger goal of Kensington? How do we work towards achieving these goals while also understanding the obstacles in the way?


The Renegade Company will be working with community members of the Kensington neighborhood to present stories, performances, scenes, and activities addressing where the neighborhood has been, where it is at, and where it is heading towards. 

Instead of fighting or fearing what does coexistence look like?  

How do we come together in a neighborhood pulled towards the past, and designing for the future?  How do we find common ground and be present with each other no matter what path the individual has taken?  How do we take control of the narrative and aid in the rewriting?
(Kensington) Streetplay is a culmination of a two-year period of working with residents in the Kensington neighborhood that have a relationship with substance abuse, addiction, homelessness, and community activism.  Through partnerships with Impact Services, The Porchlight Project, St. Francis Inn, and the Department of Behavioral Health (DBHIDS) we aim to extend past this narrative by working with the community towards de-stigmatization of the neighborhood from outside forces.

Animal Farm to Table (2016)

Exploring food access, diet choices, and gentrification in a North Philadelphia neighborhood

Inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Created and Directed by Mike Durkin

September 2016

Mike along with his group, The Renegade interviewed over 70 residents and those working in food in the North Philadelphia neighborhood.  With an ensemble of performers, designers, and community leaders Mike created a performance looking at the needs of the neighborhood.  Through the lens of George Orwell’s Animal Farm we created a production where audience members went around an urban farm learning about food and making a communal meal at the end of the performance.

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