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Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art

August 10 - October 26, 2003

 

It is life sustaining, a form of cultural expression, a part of big business, a challenge to dieters, a source of comfort, a symbol of prosperity, and the subject of the Katonah Museum of Art's exhibition Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art, August 10 through October 26. In the words of M. F. K. Fisher, "First we eat, then we do everything else." Perhaps that explains why artists from ancient times to the present have found food inspiring as symbol and subject. Primitive man painted images of food on cave walls, food offerings are carved onto Egyptian pyramids, and all manner of fruits, vegetables, wild game, and seafood have inspired artists through the ages to create images that convey the richness of the earth and the inevitability of life passing.

Edible food feeds the body while images of food feed the soul. They provoke insights into cultural practices and reveal shared values. As the American fast-food culture has taught us, the choices a society makes about food have consequences that impact the health of individuals and of the earth's environment. In our time, food matters are open to an endless variety of feelings and thoughts that investigate the boundaries between reality and representation. Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art provides viewers with an opportunity to pause and reflect on these issues and more.

The exhibition examines the concept of food from start to finish - how it is prepared, consumed, and presented in America. Guest curator Sarah Tanguy has selected a rich sampling of artworks created by twenty-two contemporary artists. The result is a provocative exhibition that offers a cornucopia of approaches to the production of food and the creation of art. Although all of the works in the exhibition can loosely be defined as still lifes and genre scenes, the artists treat food alternatively as design, consumer product, metaphor, human surrogate, or secular icon. Some work with real food and natural conditions while others fabricate simulations and explore artifice. The settings range from a kitchen, garden, dining room, and cabinet to an abstract environment or to none at all.

Full of beauty and humor, Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art awakens the senses, conjures up memories, challenges assumptions, and breaks down-the barriers between art and life. Viewers will be seduced by striking images and confounded by witty sleights of hand. They will leave the Museum filled with "food for thought."

The artists whose work appears in Food Matters: Explorations in Contemporary Art are: Margaret Adachi, Barton Lidice Benes, Julie Bozzi, Enrique Chagoya, Clark & Hogan, Bonnie Lee Holland, Maureen Connor, Linda Dolack, Susan Eder and Craig Dennis, Ming Fay, Bruno Fazzolari, Jeanne Friscia, Mildred Howard, John Kirchner, Paul Kittelson, Kara Maria, Jaune Quick-to-see-Smith, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, Celia A. Shapiro, Laurie Simmons, Sandy Skoglund, and Bob Trotman.

A 36-page, full color catalogue will accompany the exhibition. It contains an essay by curator Sarah Tanguy that explores the unique visions of artists responding to the complex apparatus of processing and marketing food in a consumer culture.

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