Arts

‘Just Food’ Virtual Exhibit at Fullerton College Art Gallery

To view the virtual exhibit visit fcjustfood.myportfolio.com. Exhibit runs through May 21.

“Just Food” bears the message of the need for a just food system that ensures honoring of the Earth and cultural roots tied to food dishes. The artists focus on how and where food is cultivated and what it means to their individual identities.

Jackie Amezquita shares her story as an immigrant and artist who struggled to make ends meet through her clay slab pieces of traditional foods, each plate carrying the significance of her old life. Real food is displayed on these slabs, allowing them to rot and dry out as time passes.

“Gathering Number Two” by Jackie Amezquita (2020)

Similarly, artist Sula Bermúdez-Silverman ties her Afro-Puerto Rican ancestors into her work using sheets of sugar to build doll houses, which symbolize the sugar plantations they once worked on. The power imbalance is striking when visualized like this. The sheets of sugar offer a translucent barrier between the inner workings of the miniature houses. Each house contains a different light source, illuminating it from the inside out and giving the audience a look inside the hollow structures.

“Neither Fish, Flesh, nor Fowl” by Sula Bermúdez-Silverman (2020). Courtesy of the artist and California African American Museum

Hard work is a reoccurring theme in this exhibition. Narsiso Martinez provides another perspective of hard labor, as he works seasonally as a migrant farm worker at an apple orchard. Martinez documents the back-breaking labor it takes to cultivate food for a nation through his strikingly realistic depictions of workers on discarded produce boxes. Each scene is painted or drawn in a way that only experience could produce; each worker’s face tells a story.

“In The Fresh” by Narsiso Martinez (ink, charcoal, gouache and matte gel on produce cardboard boxes), 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo credit: Joshua Schaedel

Nikki McClure is also featured in this exhibition, showing work pertaining to a simple life of joy and family. Her art carries an air of peace as the figures depicted are often candidly living life or tending to food preparation. Her pieces are uniquely whimsical as she cuts away at one piece of paper to tell her stories.

“Convene” by Nikki McClure (2019)

Syan Rose tells a different story. As a queer comic artist, her works bring to light the struggles of minority groups to get proper nutrition and criticizes the food industry’s selfishness and its contribution to poor nutrition in lower income areas. The work speaks for itself, literally—walls of text describe the tribulations of the LGBTQ+ and minority communities while vibrant depictions of food and figures fill the piece.

-ita, detail (2020). Written by Steph Niaupari and illustrated by Syan Rose, in collaboration with Plantita Power, Washington DC-based food justice organization.

Chip Thomas offers a different approach to sharing the message of better nutrition access for Navajo Nation peoples as well as the appreciation of his complex culture through wheat paste murals on abandoned buildings. His Painted Desert Project based in Arizona aims to cover buildings with imagery of Navajo life and culture, and often depicts people working with the land.

“Metzli in the Cornfield​​​​​​​“ by Chip Thomas. Wheat paste installation (2014).

Through these pieces, the artists come together for a common goal and weave a pattern of culture, family, and perseverance.

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