San Jose Museum of Art Presents “Around the Table: food, creativity, community”
This fall, the San Jose Museum of Art presents a suite of exhibitions and programs that celebrate and explore the role that food plays in our lives. Around the Table: food, creativity, community will unfold in three stages and extend beyond the museum walls as 33 partnering organizations throughout the Bay Area—an epicenter of agriculture and “foodie” culture—present related programs and resources through the spring of 2014.
The agricultural bounty of our region has brought waves of immigration and shaped a rich history of cultural diversity, which today we share in part via food. From food trucks to molecular gastronomy, food helps define our local communities.
Every time we sit down to eat, we make choices. In today’s world, food has social, economic and political implications. Food is charged with pleasures—and with meaning.
Stage One: Jitish Kallat’s Epilogue (September 6, 2013–April 20, 2014)
Jitish Kallat honors his father in Epilogue (2010-11), a deeply personal, reverential sequence of photographs of the traditional circular flatbread roti, a staple of daily life in India. In Epilogue, each roti represents the phase of the moon every day of his father’s 62-year-long life. These 22,000 moons, on which he may have gazed, bear witness to his time on earth. The poignant memorial is a metaphor for sustenance and a meditation on time. Kallat is attentive to the universal themes of art, birth, death, survival; he places the space and scale of one human life within a cosmic context.
Stage Two: Around the Table: Food, Creativity, Community (November 9, 2013–April 20, 2014)
In California, food is central to our history, our economy, our environment, our health and our cultural identities. California produces over half of the fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States: Agriculture here is a $43+ billion industry. And, from Alice Waters to Michael Pollan, California’s independent foodie entrepreneurs, artisans and food activists have led the way for the nation. Food is a big business, a creative craft and a cause: Unbelievably, right here amid the affluence of Silicon Valley, one of every four people remains at risk of hunger.
This exhibition looks “around the table” at food today through the work of 29 contemporary artists, and revolves around healthful eating, food and community, and food issues. Imagine a lending library of seeds; curry wallpaper; a living tree growing 40 varieties of stone fruits; organic vegetable beds.
Matthew Moore’s installation delights in the unexpected, quirky, indeed sculptural shapes of carrots as they grow naturally. For Robert Karimi, the ideal kitchen becomes a place in which the museum’s visitors can discuss the nutritional and cultural values of food.
The Los Angeles artists’ collective Fallen Fruit displays wallpaper that echoes the history of San Jose’s fruit-canning industry. Chelsea Wills chronicles the transformation of the Valley from agricultural to technological, and highlights the Valley’s cultural and bio-diversity through interviews with family farmers who immigrated from Japan, Portugal, China and Vietnam.
Stage Three: Talk Around the Table (December 19, 2013–April 20, 2014)
The Davies Gallery in SJMA’s historic wing becomes a place to participate in hands-on activities, view documentaries, share ideas via social media and discover facts (and lies!) about food. Talk Around the Table is a gathering space to create, debate, share and explore the ways that food intersects with our daily lives. Rene Yung’s Cauldron commemorates San Jose’s early Chinese immigrants with a historical rice bowl excavated from the city’s former Chinatown site on Market Street. Visitors may also explore “Hidden Kitchens,” amazing radio stories about food cultures around the world by the Kitchen Sisters of public radio fame.