Jack Nicholson, playing The Joker in the 1989 Tim Burton film Batman, said “I don’t know if it’s art, but I LIKE IT!” Looking at artist Sarah Smith’s ersatz ceramic food sculptures I am convinced this work is incredibly effective art. And I like that. A lot.
Part of Smith’s inspiration comes from the cultural differences found when it comes to food preparation and presentation. From her experiences, European’s tend to favor and appreciate food that not only tastes good but looks just as good to match. In the discipline known as culinary arts, the appearance of food is intrinsically linked with the skill of the chef and also with the intended effect on the consumer. In other words, form effects function. Strong components in any art form, Sarah Smith has applied this notion to fake food, emphasizing and reminding the viewer that strong physical reactions can be manipulated through visual presentation.
Throughout time, food has been linked with human emotion and health. Consider this: Apples are associated with our health and death. The “perfect” apple and the “poison” apple. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
Symbiosis of food and the human body. Cucumber slices and orange slices are a remedy for tired eyes and worry lines. Black eyes are healed with a raw steak. Aromatherapy consisting on some level as ‘concentrated scents of food’ (coconut, vanilla, bananas….attempts to create a strong physical reaction such as calming through an associated mental- visual representation. But why is that and is this what Smith is asking us with her food? How do we feel when we see a raw pork chop?
So it’s connections like this that demand we consider Smith’s artistic motivation. Her work exists on many levels. Is it hyper-realism? Surrealism? Pop-art? I believe it is all of those things and more. For the Silo, Jarrod Barker.