Houston Center for Photography presents “See Food: Contemporary Photography and the Ways We Eat”

Ben_and_KingHOUSTON, TEXAS (November 14, 2013) – Houston Center for Photography is pleased to announce the opening of its newest exhibition, SEE FOOD: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE WAYS WE EAT, shown in the HCP Galleries from November 22, 2013 through January 12, 2014. Featuring 11 artists from the US, UK and Canada, See Food’s opening reception will take place Friday, November 22 from 6-8pm, with curator remarks beginning at 5:30pm.

The exhibition’s title acknowledges our contemporary appetite for food imagery, as evidenced by the popularity of cooking programs, recipe blogs, reality television shows or the simple act of taking pictures of meals and posting them online. Through new forms of technology and trends within the mainstream media, our encounters with food and food issues have become increasingly visual, yet disconnected from reality. In the non-digital world however, farmer’s markets, public gardens and co-ops have started to redesign the hands-on, community-oriented, urban, food-scape and have inspired a renewed connection with nature and a sense of responsibility for knowing food at its source. The eleven artists represented in See Food experiment with the visual investment in the power of food by exploring both its formal qualities and its cultural relevance, while their artworks highlight a uniquely visual relationship with food, reflecting a variety of ways photographs inform how we picture food and see ourselves.

“Mark Menjivar, Emily Peacock and Emily Sloan, for example, look to food as a raw expression of identity and personal taste, while others such as Jonathan Blaustein and Nolan Calisch use food to challenge the current modes and costs of industrial production and suggest alternative commercial models in their place.” Explained exhibition curator Natalie Zelt. “Each of the pieces in this exhibition also highlight the artists’ individual relationships with food and the experiences that have brought them to view the subject in a specific way,”

The 11 participating artists include Corey Arnold (Portland, OR), Jonathan Blaustein (Arroyo Hondo, NM), Christin Boggs (Washington, D.C.), Damaris Booth (London, England), Nolan Calisch (Portland, OR), Jody Horton (Austin, TX), Andrzej Maciejewski (Ontario, Canada), Mark Menjivar (San Antonio, TX), Emily Peacock (Houston, TX), Emily Sloan (Houston, TX), and David Welch (Martha’s Vineyard, MA).


Corey Arnold’s Fish-Work series explores life aboard commercial fishing boats around the world and celebrates the lifestyle of fishermen whose reward is more often found in the storytelling of triumph, survival and camaraderie than it is in their actual catch.

Photographing only one dollar’s worth of a specific food item, Jonathan Blaustein strips down the glamorized, price-fixed, status symbol that it may suggest and reduces it to nothing more than a commodity for the purpose of exposing the ways in which advertising photography is used to deceive.

In her series Slow and Steady, Christin Boggs tells the story of the Greater Rochester Region of New York and its citizens who have rejected convenience food to responsibly grow, prepare and share sustenance in cooperative groups and sustainable food practices.

Damaris Booth uses ceramics to investigate our relationship with food and waste. By photographing leftover food and transferring the images onto plates, she explores how food can rapidly transform from being necessary and desirable to unwanted and repulsive.

A farmer himself, Nolan Calisch’s conflicted views on food imagery has led to his CSA USA series that highlights a holistic approach to documenting a harvest. His photographs, taken by three fellow farmers over a six-week period, give a sense of seasonality and the changing succession of food and distribution on each farm.

Jody Horton is attracted to food as a mode of storytelling. By documenting the gathering or creating, and often some transformation, Horton depicts a series of engagements between land and people. For his series, Oyster Picking, Horton joined oystermen Steven White and Jeff Spahr for a harvest in Bulls Bay, SC.

Inspiring a discussion on our relationship with nature, Andrej Maciejewski depicts fruits and vegetables in a renaissance-like still life setting, yet keeps grocery store sanctioned numbers and labels on them so as to show that the perfection and flawlessness of the foods we consume is anything but a natural occurrence.

Mark Menjivar’s unconventional portraits of the insides of people’s refrigerators reveal our intimate relationship to food.  He travels around the world photographing and exploring food issues relating to the effect on consumers, individuals and communities. This will be the first venue to exhibit the series You Are What You Eat as he rephotographs the same subjects four years after his initial images.

Emily Peacock explores the hyperbolic forms and textures of prepackaged, processed, artificial food, incorporating brightly colored backgrounds to symbolize their eye-catching packaging.

Using both personal images as well as those submitted by the viewers, Emily Sloan uncovers the deep dark secrets of people’s sly eating habits – from the comical to the dangerous – all within and attached to her Kenmore mini-fridge.

David Welch endeavors to explore the contemporary agricultural efforts taking place year round on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in his series The New Farmers. Welch aims to use Martha’s Vineyard as a microcosm for a larger national trend toward food education and self-sustainability.

About See Food curator Natalie Zelt
Natalie Zelt is an independent curator and author based in Austin, Texas. From 2009 to 2012, she was the curatorial assistant for photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. While there she co-authored and co-curated, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images  of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, with Anne Wilkes Tucker and Will Michels, for which the authors were awarded the 2012 Kraszna-Krausz “Best Photography Book” by Sony’s World Photography Awards. She curated several of exhibitions from the MFAH collection including Public DressRogovin 101, and Snail Mail and has worked in private and public art galleries in Washington, DC and Houston.

Special thanks to media sponsor Arts+Culture Texas

For more information on See Food, for visuals or to schedule a tour please contact:

Jonathan Beitler, HCP Press Coordinator, 832.964.9932, jonathan@barrelhousemedia.com


Houston Center for Photography is supported by The Houston Endowment, The Brown Foundation, City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation, Artist’ Framing Resource, Larson-Juhl, Eddie Allen and Chinhui Juhn, Anonymous, Fan and Peter Morris, The John O’Quinn Foundation, Simmons Foundation, Sterling Turner Foundation, Art Colony Association, Cemo Family Foundation, Clayton Dabney Foundation, Dumas/Johnson Family Fund, Patricia J. Eifel and Jim Belli, JBD Foundation, Anonymous, QUE Imaging, Texas Children’s Hospital, Texas Commission on the Arts, The Joan Hohlt and Roger Wich Foundation, Wortham Foundation Inc, Antonio Manega – Gazer Design Group, Poppi Massey, Joan Morgenstern, Joan and Stanford Alexander, Julie and Drew Alexander, Carol and Lee Ballard, Deborah Bay and Edgar Browning, Jay Baker Architects, Carol and Les Ballard, Charles Butt, John D. Chaney, Susan and Patrick Cook, Jereann Chaney, Frazier King, James E. Maloney, Nena D. Marsh, Burt Nelson, Stuart C. Nelson, Sue and Bob Schwartz, The Southampton Group, Stahlman Lumber Company, Aker Imaging Houston, Amegy Bank, Liz and David Anders, Christopher Ashby, Laua and Tom Bacon, Kevin E. Bassler, Bergner & Johnson, The Beth Block Foundation, Thomas Damsgaard, Sanford L. Dow, Bevin and Dan Dubrowski, FotoFest & FotoFest Staff, The GE Foundation, Cullen Feiselman, Heidi Gerger, Robert L. Gerry III, Bob Gulley, James R. Fisher, Howard Hilliard and Betty Pecore, Sally and John Hopper, Houston Camera Exchange, Patricia P. Hubbard, Leslie and Mark Hull, Live Jenney, Wendy and Mavis Kelsey Kr, Mavis Kelsey III, Sherry and James Kempner, Barbara and Geoffrey Koslov, Kathryn and Tim Lee, Mickey and Mike Marvins, Craig L. Massey, Libbie J. Masterson, Mariquita Masterson, Mid America Arts Alliance, Alexander K. and Muffy McLanahan, Dixie Messner, Celia and Jay Munisteri, J. Andrew Nairn, Betsey and Charles Powell, Pia Puno, Robertson-Finley Foundation, Julie Soefer, Susan and Steve Solcher, Scott R. Sparvero, T.C. Lupton Family Foundation.
Founded in 1981, Houston Center for Photography is a nonprofit organization offering year-round exhibitions, workshops, publications, outreach programs, lectures, classes, and home to an on-site library housing more than 2,500 books on photography as well as a state of the art digital darkroom. HCP’s mission is to increase society’s understanding and appreciation of photography and its evolving role in contemporary culture. HCP strives to encourage artists, build audiences, stimulate dialogue, and promote inquiry about photography and related media through education, exhibitions, publications, fellowship programs, and community collaboration. HCP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving as a resource to its members and the community with programs that have regional and national impact.
HCP is located at 1441 West Alabama in the Museum District of Houston. Gallery hours are: Wednesday -Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fridays 11-5, Saturday and Sunday 11-7. For more information, please call 713-529-4755 or visit http://www.hcponline.org.
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