A colleague of mine sent out a link to an artist’s website that show’s how powerful the message can be when art and food combine. Mark Menjivar does photographic essays on a variety of subjects including food related topics. In You Are What You Eat he takes a series of photographs of the inside of people’s fridges. Beneath each photo we learn where the person lives, what they do for a living and how many people live in the household. Turns out the contents of our fridge speak volumes about who we are. Spotted a snake in the freezer of one person and what look like pajamas in the crisper of another! I decided to take a picture of the inside of my fridge this morning. Although there was nothing too weird in my fridge (except for the nail polish, not shown here), I did feel a bit uncomfortable baring it all. What would your fridge reveal about you?
In The Pleasures of Eating, Menjivar is inspired by the Wendell Berry essay of the same name. He lists a number of food activities, including growing our own, that will help us to better experience the pleasures of eating. He is currently Artist-in-Residence at a school in San Antonio and is working with a group of students on food related projects. They are redesigning the school courtyard and planting gardens. They planned a meal, cooked it for a family, then documented it in a ‘zine. They also recorded everything they ate in a food journal and have done some food mapping in a nearby food desert. There’s a lot more. The site is very inspiring and well worth exploring.
One of my favourites is Wish I Were Here. Menjivar was working with homeless youth in San Antonio. Each time they would come to his office, he would give them a photography book and post-it notes and asked them to stick their comments on photos. The post it notes were great conversation starters and led to some profound exchanges. When the project ended, they decided to send the book to the author as a thank you. I have a feeling it might have been the most profound acknowledgement that photographer had ever received.