When multisensory artist Stevie Famulari was in pastry school in the 1990s, she found herself thinking less about dough and more about which frostings would work best—and be most environmentally friendly—on deciduous and coniferous trees.
In 2000, she had the chance to test her recipes. For her Sugarland project, Famulari frosted an entire quarter-acre forest in Syracuse, New York, with lots of local help. “Children did the most fantastic trees,” says Famulari. In the end, despite having to refrost due to rain, visitors could followa jellybean footpath into a colorful, gummy-bear-filled forest that smelled like peppermint. One visitor was caught licking frosting off a tree.
“Food isn’t an object, it’s an experience,” she says. “The more colorful it is and the better it smells, the more approachable it is.” Approachability is one reason Famulari, who also has a background in fashion and teaches in the landscape architecture department at North Dakota State University in Fargo, thinks food is the perfect medium for engaging people in art.
Over the years Famulari has sought ways to reach broader, more diverse audiences. That’s what took her to TV. As a regular on the Food Network Challenge show, Famulari has made, among other things, an edible swamp and a Rice Krispies bar replica of Fargo, North Dakota’s Main Avenue Bridge. And she’s had a blast doing it.