Sat 1/16-Sat 9/3
Andy Warhol may or may not have said the following: “When it comes to advertising, even though an ad might leverage the aesthetic expresSsion of emotion to influence our behavior for some other end, that doesn’t make that expression itself any less artistic.”
One issue with Warhol quotes is they often are unsourced. Even if the aforementioned didn’t come from the American artist, the quote encompasses the spirit of his iconic 1962 exhibit Campbell’s Soup Cans. This is also the mindset explored in the Akron Art Museum’s new exhibit Snack, which runs January 16 through September 3 in the Rubber City museum.
The display includes drawings, paintings, ceramics, collage, prints, photographs and sculpture from contemporary artists depicting food through humor, pop culture and nostalgia. CoolCleveland talked to Akron Art Museum associate curator Theresa Bembnister about this tasty exhibit.
At first glance, it appears as though Warhol’s soup can prints epitomize the mission behind Snack.
Yeah, there is an Andy Warhol print of a tomato soup can and it’s on an actual shopping bag that was produced for a prior exhibition. It kind of is at the heart of the exhibition with work about food. Also, the title is kind of the heart of the exhibition too, in that what do you think about when you think of the word snack? You’re probably not thinking about a meal. It’s probably something that’s a little more light or perhaps not as nutritious. So I wanted pick images of food for this exhibition, but I didn’t want them to be an apple or orange on a plate.
The concept behind Snack is unique. What’s the impetus for the exhibition?
I went to see an installation at Survival Kit, and artist Mike Sobeck had paintings of pizza slices on display at the same time. I thought his work was hilarious. He mixes like incredibly detailed, almost portraits of individual slices. When I did a studio visit with him, he explained to me that there are people who will see his paintings and know exactly the pizza place the slice came from in Cleveland. So they’re way larger than life, which gives them like a sense of seriousness because of scale and the amount of detail. It makes pizza seem really important but it’s just a slice of pizza. That got me started thinking about funny images of food.
How does Snack fit into the Akron Art Museum mission?
We’ve focused quite a bit on contemporary art and we have a permanent collection of artwork. So several works in the exhibition are from our collection, but we also have a connection to artists in our region. Kristin Cliffel is a Cleveland ceramic artist who does these incredible and elaborate sculptures of cupcakes. From Akron, Stephen Tomasko is a photographer who travels around the state of Ohio visiting county fairs and photographing food stands. Also, Mike Sobeck has a work in the exhibtion. Luigi’s Pizza, which is a pretty famous pizza place in Akron, agreed to commission a slice of their pizza from Mike specifically for this exhibition. I’m really happy that the first things people will see walking into the gallery will be a huge slice of Luigi’s Pizza.
Do you feel Snack provides visitors a social commentary about consumerism? Perhaps the notion of dressing up dinner, knocking the concept of advertising or is it simply a celebration of food?
I’d say it’s really all of the above. I talk about how a lot of the work in the exhibition is really funny and silly, but after I started researching it and thinking more about the art in the exhibition, I realized that the humor is kind of a gateway to allowing the artists and viewers to communicate about deeper issues. Kristin creates these gorgeous cupcakes that have funny things written on them. She’s drawing the text she puts on her artwork from her kind of everyday existence as a wife and mother. These self-doubts she has about wanting to be a perfect mom or a perfect wife.
Considering the exhibition’s title, will snacks be provided for visitors?
The exhibition is through September 3 and we have a wide variety of programs scheduled that reflect the theme of the exhibition. I know we’ll have hands-on activities and will be inviting some different food-related experts to be a part of the exhibition in some way.
Well, in that case, can we bring our own snacks?
[laughs] You know, we have a café here at the museum. So I’d say if you’re hungry after seeing the exhibition, head downstairs. Otherwise, Luigi’s is just a couple of blocks away so you can always get a slice there.
Gallery hours vary with admission: adults $7, students/senior (65+) $5 and children (17 and under) free.