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חנוכה סמח

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio Teaching Artist Vera Tineo inspired us with a session entitled: How Our Food Represents Us: Our Community, Our Identity, Our Consumerism. To get us thinking and to spur discussion Vera showed images of work by Tom Wesselmann, Robin Antar, Gina Beavers, Horace Pippin, Zena Saro-Wiwa and her friend Marcos Purde.

Robin Antar, Classic Yellow, 2011, yellow travertine, 20x11x6.5"
Horace Pippin, Supper Time, 1940
Marcos Purde, Album Cover, 2020

Vera summarizes: “My lesson was created to expand our understanding of food in society. The effects of consumerism, our economic status and culture impact what nutrients we have access too. I was able to learn from my fellow classmates about their eating habits and how they interpret food consumerism as well as traditions. Akash captured the demand and supply of junk food even though it should not be consumed repetitively. Wayne introduced us to rose jam. Sarah share the history of migration in her family and how it has changed her families cuisines. Overall food has allowed me to understand more about my community, as we create art about what we eat.”

Jacob was the one artist who worked in sculpture this week. And what a sculpture it is!!! He explains: “I am Jewish, and feel connected to most aspects of the religion and culture, but not necessarily Jewish food culture. My Jewish grandma married an Italian man, and the Italian food culture dominated over the Jewish food culture in my family. The pasta represents Italian culture, and the menorah is an object used to celebrate Hanukkah. This menorah represents a fusion of Italian culture with Judaism.”

Jacob Rath, Rigatoni Menorah, rigatoni box with pasta and Hanukkah candles

Jacob pointed out during our critique that Claude’s inclusion of a tiny American Flag in his collage exploring our junk food culture was an inspired choice.

Claude Viaud Peralta, Eat Eat Eat, digital collage

Like Claude, Vera took on Junk Food Culture as she made a sort of fabric from salvaged wrappers. Vera plans to use it for a base for a print. She also made a drawing of salami frying. I pointed out that the pan is quite evocative and I think I have the SAME pan. Old, well used, heavy, the go-to pan. Yes, said Vera, that’s the one!

Vera Tineo, Junk Food Paper in progress
Vera Tineo, Frying Salami, ink in sketchbook

Akash, as ever, adroitly illustrated a complex idea in such a way to tell the story clearly, engage the viewer and even make us laugh as we think about the very important idea of how children are fed in schools.

Akash Wilmont, What do Kids Eat?!, pen on paper

You recall last week I told you about my friend Karla Prickett from Kansas? Well, we were thrilled that Karla joined us this week on Zoom. Karla, Sarah and I were all thinking about our cultural and perhaps obsessive devotion -- well, at least in my case -- to coffee as we completed Vera’s lesson.

Karla Prickett, Coffee, Tea and Chocolate, pen on paper
Meridith McNeal, Moka Pot with Tea Kettle, watercolor on paper
Meridith McNeal, Making Spinich with Garlic and Hot Pepper in Oil, watercolor on paper

Sarah explained to us that her last name is Turkish in origin, which brings a dual dynamic to family gatherings in her home in Saudi Arabia. And a bit of an ongoing tussle over the ever present and beloved beverage – coffee. The Arabic style is brewed light with cardamom. The Turkish style dark, thick and syrupy. I’ll take the Turkish and make it a double!

Sarah Gumgumji, Arabic Coffee, marker on paper
Sarah Gumgumji, Turkish Coffee, marker on paper

Ed includes his chicken soup in process:

Ed Rath, Chicken Soup in the making, phtographs
Ed Rath, Chicken Soup for Five, collage

Marilyn painted a lovely portrait of her Thanksgiving leftovers in a sectioned plate (which spurred a lively discussion about sectioned plates, TV Dinners and that sort of thing.).

Marilyn August, Thanksgiving Leftovers, watercolor on paper

Wayne tempted us all with his delicious sounding meals of “Rye bread (from the Polish Bakery in Greenpoint) with Brie cheese. Finger bananas from the Chinese grocer in Woodside. Labne cheese with Rose Petal Jam on Rye from my local Turkish supermarket in Sunnyside.”

Wayne Gross, Sandwitches, colored pencil on paper

I think this was the point that Wayne got to Rose Petal Jam that we collectively started dreaming of a time that we will be able to meet again in person and enjoy delicious food together as we make art and converse.


If you are on Instagram you may be aware that Dennis maintains the ART YARD Instagram page. Dennis suggests: "You should follow ARTYARDBKLYN! And please share our page with your friends, Instagram is a great way to give people a quick introduction to the excellent work being created by ART YARD artists of all ages!”

ARTYARDBKLYN Instagram page

That gets me back to community, or communities our overlapping and tangential affiliations. If you have followed the our Recaps for a while, you may recall that ART YARD Artist Ardelia Lovelace used ART YARD as the springboard for a project in her marketing course at FIT.

Ardelia Lovelace, Billboard idea for ART YARD BKLYN
Ardelia Lovelace, Subway Ad idea for ART YARD BKLYN

The other day we received a donation from someone who we did not recognize. Dennis wrote a thank you note and asked how our new supporter had heard of us. Here is where the overlapping communities idea comes in. Look at this fabulous reply!!


A few weeks ago in the context of thinking about the notion of memoir and artmaking I praised Riva Lehrer’s book Golem Girl. We also discussed her splendid portraiture of often of overlooked people in Advanced Studio. This week Riva has a fantastic Opinion piece in the New York Times. READ IT!

“Truth is, all portraits, no matter the medium, are only fragments. None can capture the complexity of a human life. The portraitist chooses the symbols and stories that represent the subject, in constrained gestures toward the immensity of biography.” Riva Lehrer


Happy Festival of Lights!

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