Artists explore the sensory stimulation of food as the primary source of human health and well being. Acknowledged as the main substance of nourishment, artists delve into the emotional and physical impact of food in contemporary society. Through a myriad of images and various media, artists emphasize the beauty of food as form as well as food creating form.
The “Food and Form” exhibit spans contemplation of nature’s tempting designs for human ingestion to the corporate derivation of those original designs to fatten profits. Food activists wish to provoke a national debate concerning basic nutrition, fitness and health in an attempt to ward off what has been called a national epidemic, obesity. First Lady, Michelle Obama and chef Jamie Oliver are to be applauded for their attempts to create awareness of this crisis.
Using social commentary, allegory, symbolism and design, artists express their individual concerns and/or appreciation for our daily repast. Frances Jetter’s linocut “Tolerance,” encourages tolerance in an ever-increasing multi-cultural nation, whereas the linocut “Frankenfoods,” raises questions concerning hybrid food production asking, “What are we eating?” Deborah Sokolove’s icons give thanks to the work of human hands and highlight the use of food images in Christian symbolism.
The imagery of Will Wilner’s photographs zoom in on common edibles transforming them to beautiful abstract works of art while Jenny McShan’s sculpture, a torched wedding dress made of marshmallows, leaves room for interpretation on contemporary marriages.
Many are perplexed by the mixed messages society promotes. A current children’s television program promotes the following slogan: “Do a good job and you can have a piece of this delicious cake.” Rewards given for expected behavior? Slogans are used daily to entice, threaten, bribe, coheres. Sweet treats as a behavior control adds to poor nutrition and food related problems. This subtle manipulation of mind can trigger comfort or repulsion depending on its association as we grow to adulthood.
Our changing culture offers a constant challenge in a fast paced society. However, choices start with the individual homemaker. The consumer buys the product and fuels the market. It is important to understand food issues facing families, our children and our elders, to promote a healthier society.
Cecilia Rossey, 2010
This exhibition of eighteen artists selected by guest curator Cecilia Rossey is overflowing with ideas and concepts about food and the human form.
Food, simple yet necessary for survival, comes in almost endless variety in some parts of the world and is in shortage in many others. Our bodies process food all on their own, automatically keeping us alive most of the time, but in some cases reacting to toxins, pathogens or allergens causing illness.
In this exhibition we find commentary on the fact that much of the food available to us in the United Sates isn’t immediately recognizable, has mysterious chemical ingredients, or is altered in some way. Much of the time we have no idea where our food has come from, the environmental impacts that the type of production and distribution have caused, the social issues in terms of workers who harvest or pack our food, how and in what conditions the animals we consume were raised, and how eating this food will affect our bodies.
Issues such as obesity and anorexia, both diseases which are exclusive to first world countries, are addressed in this exhibit. The relationship between food, reward and advertising is explored. Works in this show ask us to consider how we view animals in the context of food, to consider how we treat them, as a commodity or as a form of life to be respected, especially in light of their sacrifice to feed us.
Finally, we also see the beauty of food, the sensual qualities, its appearance in shape, texture, color, scent or odor, and taste whether processed or natural. This exhibit also questions how food should be used, as sustenance, as an offering. It is easy for food to become mundane because eating can be something we tend to do without thinking, something we must do, but do we take the time to savor it and appreciate it for what it truly is or isn’t?
Curator, Dadian Gallery
Margaret Rose Caro
Rosemary Feit Covey
Alexandra N. Sherman