Category Archives: Food

An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

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James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

 
Obesity is considered a major health crisis in the United States and many other countries. According to the Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled” since the 1970s. It has also been reported that two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese.

While media pundits and nutritional scientists speculate the cause of obesity, one source of the problem seems apparent: junk food.

Humans love junk food. And many of us are addicted to it (which some claim is the food industry’s goal.) When considering this truth, it is safe to say that junk food has changed the face of our culture.

One artist, photographer James Ostrer decided to explore this phenomenon with his latest series, entitled, “Wotsit All About?”

If you called the series horrific, he might not mind. Using junk food, he produced some of the most disturbing images you can imagine. Monsters.

Coping With Junk

At an early age, James Ostrer’s parents divorced. It was a troubling time for him and his parents did what they could to lift their child’s spirits. His father, in particular, thought Happy Meal’s would work. Therefore, whenever Ostrer’s father picked him up for the week, he started things off with a trip to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately, instead of lifting Ostrer’s mood, this tradition brought on a bad habit. Ostrer began turning to junk food as a way to cope with stress. As he got older, Ostrer noticed his health was in decline. This got him thinking about how his relationship with junk food negatively impacted his life. He also began to reflect on how junk food impacts the world. That was when inspiration struck.

Happy Meal Monsters

The result was a series of portraits that showcased grotesque monsters made entirely of junk foods like candy, burgers, and chocolate. Ostrer used junk food as material to completely cover his models from head to toe. After eight hours in the “makeup” chair, each monster emerged looking horrifying and disturbing. This was Ostrer’s goal. The photographer successfully made the point that our relationship with junk food is indeed horrifying, grotesque, and disturbing.

Ostrer also titles his photographs to enrich his message. Each one contains the letters, “EF,” followed by a number. “EF” stands for “emotional fossil.” This structure mirrors what is called “E numbers.” The Food Standards Agency’s code for what are considered safe additives. The reviews are strict but somehow, fast food restaurants keep managing to receive passing grades.

Ostrer’s monsters have their own E numbers, indicating that they are “safe.” But Ostrer second guesses their labels by asking, “Are these monsters safe?”

Is Junk Food Safe?

Health is a global issue and junk food is too, especially in America. More often than not, what seems harmless turns out to be destructive. James Ostrer’s work reflects this fact with a bit of a twisted view. Ostrer tells us these junk food monsters are on the loose, but instead of running from them, we invite them into our bodies every day.

By viewing Ostrer’s photographs, we are invited into his perspective; a perspective that he hopes will alter the trends of junk food.

Read more Segmation blog posts about food art:

Food Never Looked So Good

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

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Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

 

Eating foods that color the seasonWhat is your favorite food? While some dishes are enjoyable year round, there are a few seasonal treats that we crave in certain months. For instance, with autumn comes a taste for turkey and pie, especially apple and pumpkin. Winter seems to taunt us all year long with reminders of sweet cookies and hot cocoa. Spring is alive with fruits and vegetables that are coming into season, and summer is the time to grill meats and eat cold treats – like Popsicles.

Regardless of what season we are in, crave-worthy foods find ways into our homes. But we don’t reach for them because of taste alone; these are the foods that color each season. Baskets of jams in winter and bowls of fruit in spring become colorful, edible kitchen décor. But no food colors a kitchen better than fruits and vegetables.

Delectable greens, vibrant berries, plump tree fruits and unearthed veggies add color to each season while sparing us room in our waistlines.

Take a journey with us through each season, reviewing the tantalizing treats that come into our homes each year.

Summer

On a hot summer day, you probably find yourself cooling off in the kitchen. With a berrylicious ice pop in hand, you can treat yourself to a low-calorie, colorful treat.

In a recently released cookbook, “Vibrant Foods” author and photographer Kimberly Hasselbrink features “Summer Berry-Coconut Milk Ice Pops.” Add a splash of color to your freezer and bear the heat with this healthy sweet.

Fall

The rich colors of fall are best found in nature. One type of fruit has colors to match the many autumn hues. Harvested between August and November, a vast variety of apples line grocery stores each year. Pies, sauces, and salad accoutrements are all places where apples appear during this colorful season.

Winter

Winter blues seem to strike in the earliest months of the year. During this time, it’s tempting to let holiday sweets carryover into daily diets, but cutting out these cravings is easy with colorful, homemade soups. Tomato bisque, broccoli-cheddar soup and hearty stews are recipes that add splashes of color to this dreary time of year.

Spring

When the earth comes alive again with thawing temperatures and spring rains, fruits and vegetables begin to appear again. Bringing color into the home and shedding the holiday pounds is simple with green leafy vegetables. In addition to making salads, begin using lettuces to cook and present food. By adding lettuce to sandwiches and garnishing main dishes with the edible green, you can sneak in the vitamins and cancer-fighting qualities while adding a burst of green to every meal.

Eating foods that color the season 2Food is a part of our daily lives no matter what season we are in. Enjoy rich colors, textures and flavors that complement each season.

Which foods do you like to eat in summer, fall, winter and spring? Share which treats infuse your kitchen with color and add health to your life.

Read more Segmation blog posts about color theory:

Food Never Looked So Good

Thanksgiving Scenes Influence Art

The Stories Behind Holiday Colors

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Food Never Looked So Good

Food Never Looked So GoodIn America, numerous grocery stores line a single street and entire television networks are dedicated to cooking shows. Alarm about nutrition labels and fad diets constantly have the spotlight of public attention. As a nation, Americans are obsessed with food.

This preoccupation allows little time to actually think about what is inside food. We seem to care less about the look, feel, taste and emotion that is associated with food than we do about the nutrition label. Even cultures that coalesce around foods they love to create, like Italians, may not fully grasp the entirety of what is inside their meals.

However, with the help of a culinary creative director and professional photographer, we are beginning to see what truly exists in every bite.

The Truth Behind ‘Cut Food’

Beth Galton and Charlotte Omnés are the masterminds behind a series of photos titled, “Cut Food.” To fully grasp the concept of this series, take the title seriously. This compilation of artwork involves food that is cut down the middle, giving viewers an inside look at the symmetry that lies in the middle of every bite.

In an NPR article, Maria Godoy recaps some of the most popular photographs. She writes, “… ‘Cut Food’ is a photo series that literally cleaves into edibles — hot dogs, ice cream, fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy — to reveal gorgeous geometric patterns tucked within.”

Many of their photographs have gone viral and are shared throughout the world. The foods they split and capture are common; most can be found in the grocer’s freezer. In fact, these pictures may even spark cravings.

Photographing Food

While photographing some food items seem harder to capture than others, Beth and Charlotte claim there is “little trickery” involved. This statement can be validated by the fact that these images, to be honest, are not entirely unique.

The ladies have put a spin on one of John Dominis’ pieces. In 1966, the late artist worked with beef rolls to discover and display the art that lay inside.

More recently, a research lab in Washington state published a six-volume resource book titled, “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.” Researchers used cutaway shots that were said to be “jaw-dropping.” Unfortunately, the price tag was jaw-dropping too. The book first retailed at $625.

On the other hand, the viral images of “Cut Food” can make the jaw-drop and mouth water at the same time.

A Universal Love of Food

The images Beth and Charlotte capture travel throughout the world. The artists’ marvel at the attention they get from people abroad. In a short video that follows the creative process behind “Cut Food” art, they say that the “universality [of their project] is amazing to watch.”

Their art is amazing for many reasons, but universality isn’t the first reason that comes to mind. After all, every people group, culture, tribe and tongue has to eat. Food is all around us. And more often than not, we love it.

Cut Food from Beth Galton Studio on Vimeo.

Read more Segmation blog posts about food art:

A New Art Form that Involves your Favorite Beverages

Simple, Creative Super Bowl Snack Ideas

The Color Red and its Many Meanings

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Jose Agustín Arrieta – Making The Ordinary Extraordinary

www.segmation.comCommon household settings and cooking materials were significant to Mexican painter, Jose Agustín Arrieta. This genre painter became famous after his death for portraying what he saw and experienced in nineteenth century Puebla, the town where he grew up and lived most his life.

In 1803, Jose Agustín Arrieta was born in Tlaxcala, Mexico. At a young age his parents moved to Puebla, where the young artist was a student of life, studying everyday objects and seeking to make them beautiful.
Today, there is not a lot of information circulating about Arrieta, but it seems he never left his home town – the place from which the character of his portraits and still lifes were born. In addition to being the bedrock of his inspiration, Puebla and nearby San Carlos offered fine art competitions that Arrieta participated in.

Jose Agustín Arrieta married Maria Nicolasa Lorenzana Varela in 1826. It is believed that she may have been an artist as well. This could very well be true; many noteworthy art teachers belonged to the Academy of Fine Arts of Puebla. Rather than join the academy and work with the likes of Lorenzo Zendejas and Salvador del Huerto, Arrieta forged his own path and set up a personal studio where he was able to paint portraits and still lifes that would not have been deemed appropriate to Puebla’s elite class. As a result, the artist did not earn a lot of money from his art work. In 1852, after identifying the state of his struggle, Arrieta took a counseling job in the State Congress.

Regardless of his inability to support himself financially during his lifetime, Arrieta’s work, known at the time as “cuadros de comedor” or “dining tables,” has become a symbol of Pueblo’s history. One reason why his genre paintings were given this title was because much of his work portrayed people and scenes that included images of national cuisine and traditional dishes. In fact, much of Jose Agustín Arrieta’s art can be summed up by the phrase, “good food and good drink.” This is because many of his paintings captured Mexican fruits, national delicacies, and bottles of wines and champagnes, as well as crystal glasses, common cooking pots, and serving baskets.www.segmation.com

Arrieta’s legacy exists today because of the content of his paintings, as well as the unique talent he displayed. A sign of his work is the fine detail that was applied to his paintings of home kitchens and public taverns. He also had an interesting way of drawing females, who were often painted as sexy women wearing full jewelry and oriental clothing.
It is said that, in his paintings, Arrieta may have been trying to save the style of symbolic still lifes that were typical in the 1600’s, but lost in the following century when naturalism came on the scene. Even though it would have been impossible for Arrieta to receive proper training in this style of art, his choice of subject matter (i.e. Mexican foods and
Puebla cooking techniques) required a realistic approach and variety of textures.

Today, Arrieta’s paintings are seen as the result of intense motivation. The artist spent much time perfecting his drawing and composition techniques, in addition to using color, and depicting human anatomy. It is unclear how much of his talent was the result of his wife’s education, who may have been properly trained at the Academy of Fine Arts of Puebla. Still, many of Arrieta’s pieces that sell today are deemed “imperfect” because of his distorted or lack of perspective. This, however, does not detract from the timeless success of Arrieta’s art.

On December 22, 1874, Jose Agustín Arrieta passed away, leaving behind a legacy that lives in Puebla and much of the world today. In fact, his work is available to the viewing public inside Casa Agustín Arrieta, a historical Pueblano home and museum.

References:
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agust%C3%ADn_Arrieta
http://web.archive.org/web/20120410092046
http://www.euskonews.com/0454zbk/kosmo45401es.html

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Simple, Creative Super Bowl Snack Ideas

superbowl,football,pizza,chocolate,snack,footballs,snacks,strawberry

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner, and with it comes the need for one thing: Snacks. While Super Bowl Sunday is famous for many things, including football, halftime shows, friends, and fun, it is also well-known for the delicious treats that are served up at parties all over the country. Snack-wise, are you prepared for Super Bowl Sunday?

Quick and Easy Super Bowl Snack Recipes

Here are a few simple, creative ways to prepare unforgettable football-themed snacks:

— Strawberry Footballs —

For a healthy treat, serve your guests Strawberry Footballs. All you need for this recipe are 24 strawberries, 8 ounces of chocolate coating, and 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips. The Strawberry Footballs are made by dipping the strawberries into melted chocolate, then allowing that chocolate to dry. Second, decorate the chocolate-covered strawberries with white chocolate to give the illusion of a football. Find directions for this treat at http://candy.about.com/od/fruitcandy/r/Strawberry-Footballs.htm.

— Football Pizza —

Pizza is always a hit at Super Bowl parties –especially football-themed pizza. To make football pizza, you will prepare a rectangular cheese pizza. The pizza is then “decorated” with pepperoni that is shaped to resemble a football (string cheese is used to make the “laces”). See full instructions: http://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/football-pizza/0d38a13a-8da2-4eb4-b306-93a18ca1ed42.

— Super Bowl Snack Stadium —

To create a Super Bowl Snack Stadium, pile salsa and guacamole in a small rectangular dish. Lay that dish inside a larger rectangular dish; arrange tortilla chips around the edges of the container. Use sour cream to create laces over the salsa and guacamole (see full recipe at http://www.stayathomeista.com/2013/01/superbowl-snack-stadium.html). This treat is sure to be a favorite!

What are your favorite Super Bowl snacks?

Do you have any traditional Super Bowl snacks that you love to serve party guests each year? If yes, Segmation superbowl,football,pizza,chocolate,snack,footballs,snacks,strawberry invites you to leave a comment on this blog post. We appreciate your creative efforts as they relate to the food you offer family and friends, and we know other readers will as well. Feel free to share your Super Bowl snack secrets with us!

Coming Soon: You definitely won’t want to miss our upcoming post about the significance of Mardi Gras colors. The characteristics that the colors represent might surprise you!

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