THIS SPRING, LIFE WILL BE A LITTLE SWEETER AT THE GREENHILL CENTER
(GREENSBORO, NC) Sweet and processed foods are the subject of works by artists in GreenHill’s spring exhibition SWEET, on display May 3 through July 14, 2019. Foods from designer cupcakes and culinary confections to Twinkies and Frosted Flakes are explored by the artists in SWEET. Painters Rachel Campbell, Bethany Pierce, and Stacy Crabill; and multi-media artists Kristine Baumlier-Faber, Jillian Ohl, Paul Rousso, Robin Frohardt and Ed Bing Lee investigate the cultural significance of food and the emotions enlisted by the senses of taste and aroma.
Curator Edie Carpenter says, “Sweet foods are portrayed by these artists as symbols of pop culture, ephemeral triumphs of the baker’s craft, and magnets for consumer taste buds, engaging visitors in a sensory exploration of food as an object of beauty and temptation.”
Raleigh artist Kristen Baumlier-Faber’s photographic installations present familiar processed foods such as donuts and Tang in innovative ways through combining photography, mixed media and food. Large format close-up photographs mounted on circular panels are presented next to four-gallon bowls of the foods portrayed. A glittering surface of a pool of Tang appears depthless in Baumlier-Faber’s photograph and evokes one of the unique qualities of this early processed food put on the market in 1959: Tang uses sugar in a unique way so that there is no sweetness saturation point. Baumlier-Faber hopes that her work will open conversations about how the food industry influences what and how much we eat; manipulating consumer tastes for food in ways we are largely unaware of.
Asheville painter Bethany Pierce’s paintings of desserts transform oil paint into luscious textures of frothy cooked icing or creamy ganache. Painting desserts can be difficult she notes: “Beneath the spotlights, they spill and slip and lean, forcing me to work with equal parts spontaneity and deliberation. Inevitably my perfectly composed still life arrangements fall apart. The ice cream melts, the donuts mold, the cakes calcify.” The emotional resonance Pierce draws from her still life subjects evokes the passage of time. She taps into the history of art and 18th-century “momento mori” still lifes that were also a reflection on the transient nature of earthly goods. The popularity of culinary television shows devoted to desserts speaks to our ongoing fascination with extravagant cakes and sweets. For Pierce this is no surprise, and has “nothing to do with sustenance and everything to do with how we feel or want to feel. We bake them to express love; we buy them to indulge. They soothe our broken hearts, even as they invite guilt and glut.”
The paintings of Rachel Campbell suggest celebrations in which cakes and desserts play a starring role. Inspired by a recent trip to Germany, Campbell’s paintings of rows of cakes are deployed like a corps de ballet – each element unique yet complimentary. Elegant tiered pastry servers and titles such as “Afternoon Tea” evoke old-world traditions. Delicate forms of ice-cream cones and pie slices by contemporary fiber artist Ed Bing Lee made from woven fibers. Lee’s knotting process stems from his attraction to the work of George Seurat and the technical aspects of pointillism – the placement of individual and differing dots of hues, values, and intensity to create a field of color and imagery. Lee’s works will be seen in North Carolina for the first time in SWEET.
Artists Jillian Ohl, Stacy Crabill, Robin Frohardt and Paul Rousso are all inspired by the colorful packaging of candy, cereal, and other treats. Ohl contrasts the experience of eating cereal to the heroic figures that are featured on cereal boxes. Crabill combines fortune cookie texts, labels, and vintage photos in collage-like works that suggest the hidden messages sweet foods can project. Frohardt fabricates trompe l’oeil cakes and other foods out of plastic bags to heighten our awareness of the impact of mass-produced food. Rousso’s monumental wall reliefs based on candy wrappers function both as abstractions and as odes to the history of candy, contrasting contemporary designs with older two-color candy wrappers.
SWEET is accompanied by a host of family-friendly associated programs designed to educate the public about nutrition and healthy eating habits through art-making activities. Two community conversations will be hosted at GreenHill addressing food marketing and consumer choice a as well as “designer foods” that are fabricated to make us always want more. A multi-generational food and art party for sweet-lovers of all ages, “Play With Your Food,” will be held on July 13 and feature drop-in art workshops, cake decorating demonstrations, cupcake contests and more to savor the summer.
Admission to GreenHill is $5/person (suggested). Gallery hours are Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Thursday: 12pm – 5pm, Friday: 10am – 7pm, Saturday: 12pm – 5pm, Sunday: 2pm – 5pm.
SWEET Opening Reception and First Friday
Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5:30-8:30 PM
Friday Night Studios | Focus on Food
Dates: Friday May 10, 17, 24, 31 June 7, 14, 21, 28 and July 12 | 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Join us for Friday Night Studios for health and nutrition workshops. Admission is “Pay what you wish.”
SWEET Art & Dialogue: Designer Foods
Wednesday, May 15 | 5:30-6:30 PM
Join GreenHill for a mock tasting trial to see how good your palate is with scientist Dan Heck.
SWEET Art & Dialogue: Marketing Taste
Wednesday, May 22 | 5:30-6:30 PM
How free are our food choices? Join marketing expert Kat van Fossen in a discussion on how foods are presented to the consumer. Kat is the founder of the Aspire Agency, and has worked with companies such as PepsiCo and Nature Made Vitamins.
Artist Talks with Rachel Campbell and Bethany Pierce
Wednesday, May 29 | 5:30-6:30 PM
Join two of North Carolina’s accomplished still life painters as they discuss their inspiration, painting process and works in SWEET.
First Friday | Walk-through tour by Kristen Baumlier-Faber and Live Music by Stephanie Arcos
Friday, June 7, 2019 | 5:30-8:30 PM
Play with your Food, a food and art party for sweet-lovers of all ages
Saturday, July 13 | 4:00-7:00 PM
Join us for cake decorating demonstrations, still-life painting, vegetable carving, cupcake contests, Food Font workshop, bicycle smoothies, and more in the gallery and studios at GreenHill. “Pay what you wish” admission, or get in free if you bring a home-made sweet and share your family recipe.
GreenHill, located in Downtown Greensboro, is a nonprofit visual art center with the vital mission to support and advocate for the art and artists of our home state, North Carolina. At GreenHill professional artists have meaningful opportunities throughout their careers to participate in a wide range of exhibitions. We provide economic support to artists through the sale of their art in our world-class galleries. Novice artists, from toddlers and young students to lifelong learners, can learn and stretch their creative muscles through our studio-based educational programs. Tap into your creative side by making art, purchasing original works of art and viewing exhibitions that inspire and pique your imagination. At GreenHill there is something for everyone. For more information visit www.GreenHillNC.org.