I'm Thankful Plate Project
The "I'm Thankful Plate Project", an ongoing participatory wall art installation spearheaded by visual artist Shane Pennington, underlines the creative mission behind Café Momentum. Opening in January 2015, Café Momentum is a full-service restaurant and culinary training facility for at-risk youths. The Dallas Cafe Momentum is located adjacent to Thanksgiving Square, which plays an integral part in the message of the artwork.
The collaborative "I'm Thankful Plate Project" between Pennington and Café Momentum founder, head chef Chad Houser, ask each of the young men and women working within the restaurant's program, as well as supporters of Café Momentum, key community figures, and restaurant guests to paint what makes them 'thankful' upon a ceramic plate. As more and more young people come into the program, the wall of plates represent a living piece art that changes and evolves just like the population of youth within Cafe Momentum programs. "The plates not only make up a growing wall art installation, but the art also circulates through the restaurant as dinnerware for selected signature dishes” says Chad Houser. "The artwork now serves as a powerful symbol, reminding both the intern to appreciate the guest's choice to spend their evening with us and the guest that the serving intern has embraced a more purposeful life path. As anticipated, the pates have evolved into captivating conversation starters, sparking Instagram-worthy moments for our guests".
The "I'm Thankful Plate Project" also offers the young people participating in the program the opportunity to learn further about creative expression beyond the kitchen. They can take part in the process of firing the personal messages onto ceramic plates within a kiln at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas. "I think there is something powerful in the message of thankfulness and nurturing your body with food at the same time", says Pennington, "I have always had a special affinity for the little chapel at Thanksgiving Square, as it has been one of the places I run to when I need to have a quiet moment to think and reflect on my own life. After meeting all the young interns, it made me realize that we all have a lot to be thankful for and greatness comes when we lift each other up."