A socially conscious food art exhibit
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Gallery 51 will present “Eat This,” a student-organized photography exhibition focused on food featuring artists Jon Feinstein, Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman. This show will open on Thursday, March 26, and remain on view through April 26.
In “Eat This,” MCLA Gallery 51 showcases artists who use fast food and “junk food,” or processed food, as art material.
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, March 26, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the 51 Main St. gallery. This event is free and open to the public.
“Eat This” was organized by MCLA’s Advanced Museum Studies class, taught by Laura Thompson, director of education and curator of Kidspace at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).
This fast-paced, real-world, experiential course provides an opportunity for students to curate a professional exhibition for MCLA Gallery 51. Using the curatorial approach Thompson developed for Kidspace at MASS MoCA, she has students exploring all facets of museum curation, including; interpretation, theme designation, art selection, label writing, audience needs, programming, working with artists, installation design and evaluation.
The concept for the exhibition was developed over two semesters. Throughout the spring 2014 semester, museum studies students presented ideas for future exhibits. One of these was a consideration of the unhealthy eating habits of college students.
This semester, students fleshed out the idea for an exhibit that would bring attention to the eating habits of most Americans. Poor food choices, stress, lack of access, finances and access healthy eating choices, various diet options, marketing and packaging of food, and the food industrial complex were all topics of classroom discussions.
The class determined the exhibition should show that issues surrounding food are complex, and not necessarily black and white.
For example, Feinstein scans fast food hamburgers, French fries and chicken nuggets, naming them after the number of grams of fat they contain. His work investigates the love/hate relationships that Americans have with fast food.
Isolating the branded food such as Big Mac burgers or Burger King French fries from their familiar colors and slogans, Feinstein’s stripped down scans force viewers to confront foods that we often eat too quickly to notice their aesthetics, or lack thereof.
Ciurej, a photographer, and Lochman, a graphic designer, developed a collaborative project entitled “Processed Views.” Using processed foods to create landscapes, the artists photographed them to look like old-time travel postcards.
Mountains are comprised of meat, Fruit Loops, and colorful sugar; lakes are pools of saturated fat, Coca-Cola and Blue Dye No. 1. The series explores the concept of consumption along with the changing landscape.
“Food has been a great topic for us to explore as a concept for museum curation, and I am excited to be a part of the experience that comes with sharing,” said MCLA Arts Management Major Jessica Robinson ’15.
Additionally, students are designing opportunities for visitors to contribute their voices to the exhibit. In “Food Portraits,” visitors are asked to share photos of their dinner plates, which can be loaded on to MCLA Gallery 51 Tumblr account at http://eatthis2015.tumblr.com.
Select images from the public, along with the classes and artists, will be printed and set out in the exhibition’s faux dining area. Visitors also will find resources and activities related to food.
MCLA Gallery 51 is a program of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. The Gallery is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.