Stella Totino

Stella Totino


Just like Visual Art, the world of food is endless–existing and subsisting in every corner of the world; and yet, unlike art, food must exist, must be present in every household, in every body. This sustenance is so rich in feeling because it serves an essential human need and when paired with a creative mind, food transcends its essentiality.

I have spent the last year working in the liminal space between the culinary and visual, where the temporal nature of food can be reimagined and the materials used to generate a ‘work of art’ are newly unexpected. I have been exploring the implications food has, as a consumer and a preparer. As intrinsic as it is to our survival, more often than not we don’t think much about how our food appeared in front of us, or even sometimes what we are actually eating. Informed by studying the food and agriculture structures in place in the United States, I work with ingredients outside of a culinary realm in order to repurpose the meaning of foodstuff in spaces meant for contemplation. By generating visual pieces which recontextualize an ingredient as a permanence and as an art, I hope to force the viewer to confront where their food is coming from, whose hands have touched it, what soil was it grown in, how it was transported, stored, cared for…

Although I was unable to bring my piece physically to the Usdan Gallery, the fact that it exists in a photographic iteration is appropriate. This particular piece highlights potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and strawberries–all ingredients indigenous to the Americas. Our current consumption and processing practices, especially of corn, have been far removed from the crops’ origins. In this context, the ingredients, pure and unassociated, are relics. A photograph does justice to this almost culturally archeological understanding of the ingredients.

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