This art is about food, the most fundamental concern for living beings.
[How much to say about food? Food is a huge issue today. We have 7.3 billion people to feed and limited resources to do so. Not everyone is able to eat, not everyone is able to eat well. More than one-third of adults 20+ are obese. Obesity-related conditions are some of the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is $190 billion. The retail market for packaged food was 2.14 trillion dollars in 2015. In 2013 the agriculture and ag-related industries in the U.S. contributed $789 million of the GDP. There are battles waging around food. Food and biotech companies opposed to mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified food ingredients have disclosed expenditures of $63.6 million in 2014 to lobby for legislation that made reference to GMO labeling. Some countries are banning GMO crops. Some say organic food growing is not sustainable for the number of people on the planet. Some say organic foods are no different from those genetically modified. Etc. etc. etc.]
Food is a hot issue.
As I arrived to my mid-50’s and began thinking more seriously about my health, I turned my attention to nutrition and discovered these issues. They captured my attention. Questionable Foods is a body of artwork about our food today – the quality of food, the political battles around food, conflicting scientific evidence about food, conflicting research about genetically modified foods, questionable nutritional value of processed foods, questionable growing methods including pesticides and animal handling, additives, the marketing of food, the conundrum of how to feed 7.3 billion people, the need for me to be conscious and careful about what I am eating.
With this work I’m also thinking about the symbiotic relationship between mass media culture and consumers. We’re in an overflowing river of media – television, movies, the internet, magazines, marketing, consumables, packaging -- manufacturing an unreal world that we are driven to aspire to, mostly to our own detriment.
I’m relating to ideas from artists in the early 1900’s who expressed their unease with widespread industrialization. Also ideas from the Pop Art movement of the 1960's. The pop artists reacted to the consumer culture and mass media and the manner in which advertising and media shape our opinions and actions. Rejecting the themes of traditional "high art" (morality, mythology, classic history), they brought commonplace objects into the realm of fine art (i.e. Warhol's Brillo soap boxes, Rauschenberg’s beer cans).
With Questionable Foods, I’m talking about food in these same ways, reacting to the industrialization, visual rhetoric and mass media of food, as well as the politics surrounding the industry.
Beyond the food issues, I'm also playing with sewing and quilting, crafts from my youth. I'm sewing food packaging into new, obviously constructed and unnatural foods. These are coupled with brittle, clear glass, another industrial material, depicting branches that have been depleted of life. The food packaging is from companies that have spent money to avoid mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods.
And before any of these political ideas, I aim to make the work beautiful and visually intriguing. I want to add beauty to the world, not ugliness.