Who are our butter sculptors?


I spent Labor Day weekend visiting my brother in his adopted home state of Minnesota, and was fortunate enough to catch the Minnesota State Fair, in St. Paul. According to the bus driver that ferried us from the parking lot, all the food there is served "on a stick," a conceit we verified in short order by enjoying fried walleye on a stick and a Pronto Pup, the upper Midwest’s more cakey answer to the corndog.

In addition to the food on a stick, a rodeo and birthing tent, the fair also hosted some interesting regional art made with natural, local supplies. Judging by the all-you-can-drink milk-stand (only $1), there seems to be more dairy products than Minnesotans know what to do with, which only begins to explain Princess Kay of the Milky Way, a decades-old beauty pageant where young ladies from around the state are sent as hometown representatives, and their likenesses carved into 90 lb. blocks of butter.

The sculptures are placed in a rotating glass case, which is one of the fair’s most popular attractions. (According to Minnesota Public Radio, the young ladies of the pageant have to sit in a refrigerator while the sculptor works.)

It got me thinking about a few local artists—namely, Allyson Mellberg and Jeremy Taylor, who use locally sourced, natural materials to make art that’s much less folksy than the above beauty pageant butter sculpture, and Patrick Costello, who has incorporated jams he’s made from vegetables he grew into installation pieces. 

Like Minnesota butter sculptors, these local artists use natural abundance to great local beauty. What materials are abundant in Central Virginia that local artists could use to make a quintessentially local art?

Think about it while enjoying some photos (below) of "seed art" from the fair.