The University of Arizona Museum of Art is now showing The Art of Food exhibition, the first exhibition after the museum closure due to COVID-19. The exhibition will take place until March 20.
The Art of Food exhibition consists of 109 works from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation. The collection consists of twentieth and twenty-first century artworks from prominent artists like Andy Warhol, Lorna Simpson, Alex Katz, Enrique Chagoya and many more.
About three years ago, curator of exhibitions, Olivia Miller, met Schnitzer, who invited her to Portland to look at his collection and arrange an exhibition. Schnitzer’s collections feature a combination of paintings, prints and sculptures all related to food.
“Food just kept standing out to me, there were a lot of artworks that dealt with food, there are all sorts of conversations that can happen about food,” Miller said.
In 2015, Tucson became the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the U.S. due to its over 4,000-year-old history of cultivation where people interacted with food on different levels.
From nutritional to political issues involving who controls food, the future of food and culture, The Art of Food opens different conversations about food.
“It’s a topic we can all relate to because we need it to live but at the same time it also can serve as a catalyst to start different types of conversations,” Miller said.
The exhibition is divided into different sections that focus on the aesthetics of food, control, community and dissociation.
The community section focuses on how food brings people together. The section on dissociation is about the disconnection of humanity and food where some people grow their own food while others buy it. The aesthetic section is called Eye Candy and it focuses on the metaphor that food has a relationship with lust, the connection between food and desire.
Another layer to the Art of Food is Community Food Stories, where UAMA Curator of Community Engagement, Chelsea Farrar and Willa Ahlschwede, UAMA Program Coordinator, worked with different members of the community to write stories related to food.
Farrar, who is in charge of the community exhibition gallery, mentioned that a lot of university instructors are planning to bring their students in the fall and spring semester as they have made the exhibition part of their syllabus. Some instructors have written labels for some of the art pieces and they want to share that with their students.
Community food stories involve the Tucson community where community members get to choose an artwork from The Art of Food exhibition and write a label for.
Ahlschwede helped to create a digital mobile guide where visitors can access on any device, no downloading needed. QR codes are available around the gallery for people to have access to more information about community members and watch videos about their works.
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“It gives you a lot of different ways to think about food, I think there is something for everyone. A lot of different ways to connect to the story of food,” Ahlschwede said.
Nelda Lillian Ruiz Calles, the program manager for Southwest Folklife Alliance, was asked to write a label for one of the art pieces. Ruiz Calles wrote her community story about the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has been destroying communities where farm workers have been exploited and receive lower salaries.
“I saw this beautiful bridge from community to high art, like I was really intrigued. They were asking for community responses on these fine arts, and it was about food, I said yes,” Ruiz Calles said.
The University of Arizona Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More information about upcoming exhibitions and events can be found on their website.
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