Food For Thought series (20"X24", Durachrome prints, 2012)

For these works, I prepared foods that I remember from my youth in the 1950s (Spam and Velveeta make several appearances), a period when advertisers started a major push to change the eating habits of the American public – often to sell products developed for the military during World War II such as frozen and convenience foods. But I photograph them like Martha Stewart would - using natural light, “home-spun” fabrics and handmade pottery to indicate “naturalness”, and the inclusion of fresh foods, orchards, and fields of crops to indicate “freshness”. The prepared foods items appear both appealing and repelling. The bright red Jell-O may be fanciful and attractive, but when we stop to consider the gelatin comes from horses’ hooves… The canned peaches are artfully arranged with maraschino cherries and a scalloped crust of vanilla wafers – but all suspended in a rather gelatinous substance.

 

The taglines and illustrations are appropriated from 1950s women’s magazines for the obviousness of their sales pitch. Selling Jell-O based on vitamin-C value? Hot dogs for the quality of the meat? These slogans seem ludicrous in retrospect. Contemporary advertising has gotten more sophisticated in its approach, but we are still gullible - at Halloween I purchased a bag of candy corn being touted as “made with real honey”.

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Hick's Peaceable Crackers