Katie Hargrave and Amber Ginsburg / Johnny Appleseed (As American As Apple Pie)
In a project dubbed, “As American As Apple Pie,” collaborator Amber Ginsburg and I look to recontextualize the historical timeframe and popular understanding of Johnny Appleseed, who truly embodies the American ethos of re-vamping and re-writing histories for public consumption. We seek to make apparent the multiplicity of narratives and their evolution across time through the personage of Johnny Appleseed and the object which he has become patron saint: the apple.
Like much of American History, Johnny has been carefully manufactured and marketed to fit our desires and our times. Between being born in Leominster, Massachusetts and dying in Fort Wayne, Indiana, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, planted seedlings across the United States and Canada; though it is commonly accepted that he is only the father of orchards throughout the Midwest. These orchards were a proto-capitalist venture, as property law required fruit trees of settlers before homesteading grants would be given (fruit trees, because of the time they took to produce fruit, symbolizing the intention of permanence). Because they were seedlings rather than graft apples (and thus were a genetic and taste crapshoot), they would often have been sour, more well suited for hard cider, apple jack, apple butter and dried apples than for eating. The adage, “An Apple a Day” doesn’t arise until the temperance movement when alcoholic uses of apples are no longer acceptable.
We are interested in taste, memory, and diaspora. How has Johnny Appleseed's memory and the changing conception of the apple reference eachother? Does the difference in taste (from crab apples to heirlooms to red delicious) mirror the fluidity of Johnny Appleseed mythology?
**As a part of this project, we have eating an apple a day since his birthday on September 27th, 2008. We're saving the seeds and distributing them in Johnny's stead. If you'd like seeds, send an email to info (at) katiehargrave (dot) us
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