Feast

A Members' Exhibition in collaboration with the Fitchburg Art Museum

 

Registration Deadline: February 21, 2024
Drop off period: February 29 - March 3, 2024
Exhibition run: March 14 - April 21, 2024
Reception: March 15, 2024, 6 - 9 PM
Pick up period: April 26 - 28, 2024


 

The table is set for Feast, the twelfth annual Call and Response exhibition at ArtsWorcester, in collaboration with the Fitchburg Art Museum.

For many, food is a source of joy, community, and celebration. Recipes and culinary traditions are passed down through generations, cultures, and religions. Food has long been depicted by visual artists, and cooking is an art in itself.

At the same time, not all have access to fresh, healthy food. Our food production industry is environmentally unsound, and jeopardizes the livelihood of small farmers. Diet culture and unattainable body standards complicate relationships with eating. All this is on our plates, too.

Artist members are asked to respond to the theme of food, and to one (or more) of ten artworks on loan from the Fitchburg Art Museum. Preview the loan below, then come to the galleries in January to view each work in person.

The Fitchburg Art Museum’s curatorial staff will select ten works from Feast by ArtsWorcester artist members to be exhibited at FAM with the loaned works.

 


 

Preview works on loan from the Fitchburg Art Museum below.

Jules Aarons (US American, 1921–2008)
West End Meat Market, n.d.
silver gelatin print
Gift of Jeanne and Richard S. Press, 2015.141.12
16” x 20”

Jules Aarons began documenting daily life in Boston’s West End in 1947, capturing candid images of a community in a continuous state of change. Throughout the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, this neighborhood served as home to many immigrant groups, including Jewish Eastern Europeans who contributed to the development of the area’s infrastructure. The meat market photographed here speaks to commercial establishments’ multifaceted function as a community resource, gathering space, and support for religious and cultural practices involving food preparation.


 

Henry George Todd (English, 1820–1904)
Study of Strawberries, 1877
oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Paul Mellon in memory of her grandfather Arthur H. Lowe, 1969.5
10” x 12”

While still life paintings are recognized for showcasing the artist’s technical skill, they may also carry symbolic warnings. The lush fruit spilling from the basket initially appears tantalizing, but the brown discoloration on its leaves’ surface belies evidence of common leaf spot (a fungal disease that afflicts strawberry plants). The deliberate inclusion of creeping decay reveals Henry George Todd’s interest in the Dutch Masters and vanitas paintings, which often used rotting fruit to remind the viewer of their own mortality and the fragility of life.


 

David Seltzer (US American)
Sea Salt / Lemon Sage, 2017
archival pigment print on paper
Gift of Benjamin Janisko, 2020.143.13
35” x 24”

David Seltzer’s work experiments with the rawness of sensation and perception. He digests personal memory and visceral images embedded in his psyche through heavy manipulations of light and shadow, evoking the esoteric exposures and disquieting fixations unfolding in his own mind. The title of this abstracted piece derives from ingredients that enhance flavor or possess aromatic qualities, inviting the viewer to yield to sensory stimulation rather than strive for intelligible meaning.


 

English teapot, c. 1785
ceramic
Norcross Collection, 1933.30
4” x 4 ½”

This teapot belonged to Eleanor Norcross (founder of the Fitchburg Art Museum) and illustrates how decorative arts objects served to subtly establish hierarchies in social settings engineered around entertainment and consumption. During the late 18th century, ornate teapots and other ceramic luxury items used while hosting guests were displayed as a projection of class aspiration. Conspicuous wealth was necessary to strengthen status and engender envy as a social currency. Though English in origin, this teapot features abstract decorations inspired by popular Chinese designs to appear as if it were imported and therefore more valuable.


 

Charles “Teenie” Harris (US American, 1908–1998)
Cotton Candy Booth, c. 1945
silver gelatin print
Gift of Stephen DiRado, in memory of Harold Stevens, 2022.143
7 ⅞” x 10"

Charles “Teenie” Harris’ work provides detailed insight into Black American life from 1935 to 1975, documenting moments that were both intimately local and nationally resonant. Throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Courier, Harris developed a vast body of work that portrayed celebrities and civil rights leaders, sports heroes and soldiers, the elite and the working class alike. Themes of joy, community, and childhood innocence exude from his photographs at a time when segregation, violence, and pain were the primary topics attached to Black life in the media.


 

Mixteca-Puebla artist
Tripod Bowl, c. 1300–1500
ceramic
Bequest of Charles B. Cohn, 1984.13
5” x 8 ½” x 4”

Mixtec pottery was best known for elaborate polychrome painting with patterns that conveyed the piece’s particular use within ceremonial contexts. This bowl may have been designed to contain ritual offerings in the form of food and drink, possibly for a home altar given its smaller size. Later adaptations of the tripod bowl structure emphasized the form of the feet to model them after animal or human figures; the feet here could be simplified snake heads.


 

Matt Siber (US American, b. 1972)
McDonald's, 2003
C-print on paper
Gift of Dr. Anthony Terrana, 2018.81.7
16 ½” x 12”

In his Floating Logos series, Matt Siber digitally manipulates familiar urban landscapes to play with perceptions of late-stage Capitalism as utopia or dystopia. Existing within a globalized, post-industrial economy entails constant exposure to consumerist demands—whether driving down the highway or even just looking out the window, you’re confronted by an onslaught of advertisements appealing to your purchasing (or literal) appetite. By removing the physical structures that support instantly recognizable corporate logos, Siber encourages closer scrutiny of the economic structures that loom over us and alter the horizon ahead.


 

Paul Quain (Irish)
Loading Cattle, Aran, from the portfolio Ireland, 1980
gelatin silver print on mat board
Jude Peterson Collection, 2009.14.205
9 ⅛” x 6 3/16”

The topography of the Aran Islands present unique challenges to raising livestock. Though the cattle are out all year round, there’s no silage or forage on the islands aside from imported hay. When it comes time to transport cattle to the mainland, they must be lifted (as photographed here) into containers on shipping barges.


 

Justin Walker
Daddy Bruce, 2010
color photograph on paper
Gift of Dr. Anthony Terrana, 2018.184
11” x 14”

Justin Walker combines his commercial practice with a fine art aesthetic to modify compositional reality with a surrealist storytelling flair. Specializing in culinary photography and conceptual still-life, Walker’s work reflects an abiding fascination with taste as a concept beyond bodily sensation. In his own words, taste is “more inside your head than in your tongue,” something elusive and seductive that resides in style and feeling as well as food. Daddy Bruce experiments with the registers of taste, laying out a feast for different types of appetite.


 

Adriaen van Ostade (Dutch, 1610–1685)
Company in a Tavern, n.d.
etching
Given in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver E. Williams by their children (Esther Williams McKinney, Oliver Williams, and Thomas Williams), 1968.4.5
8” x 10”

Adriaen van Ostade devoted his work to the allure of quotidian experience, mostly portraying common people engrossed in their daily lives. While his early creations erred toward unflattering caricature of raucous peasants in shabby surroundings, Van Ostade gradually shifted to more subtle, realistic studies of rural life, commerce, and consumption. Though the space depicted in this etching is cluttered—containing both trappings of home and tools of trade in a blend of domesticity and labor—it still evokes warmth and community care as beer and conversation flow freely among the people gathered at the table.


 


We thank our friends and partners at the Fitchburg Art Museum for sharing their collection so generously with our artists.

 

Exhibition support comes from:

      

 

Ongoing support comes from:

Get updates about upcoming exhibitions and never miss a public reception when you sign up for ArtsWorcester emails!