The Fullerton College Art Department is presenting their latest exhibit “Just Food” in a virtual experience from Feb. 1 – May 21.
The inspiration of the exhibit is food justice, meaning everyone deserves the right to have access to locally grown, nutritious and culturally appropriate food. It is a movement stemming from grassroots organizations and the Civil Rights Movement addressing food insecurity largely affecting communities of color and low income.
All the artwork displayed in the gallery has a unique connection to food justice.
Artist Narsiso Martinez explains that he uses his artwork to express “a visual conversation between farmworkers and the food industry.” In his piece “Philosophy In The Fields” on display, he uses ceramic tiles with glaze to tell a story of injustice within the farming industry.
“My goal is to highlight the farmworkers’ presence in the front lines when it comes to food production, which is something that seems to be ignored in this country. As a result, these workers are unfairly treated,” Martinez said.
Martinez is well known for his portraits of farmworkers on cardboard boxes, as seen in the “Just Food” exhibit. His art comes from his personal experiences as a migrant farmworker to fund his education, as well as the experiences of others.
In “Neither Fish, Flesh, nor Fowl” Sula Bermúdez-Silverman uses sugar and dollhouses to signify the divisions in class and society, drawing from her Afro-Puerto Rican ancestor’s roots as sugar plantation workers.
“Both sugar and dollhouses were symbols that have sort of changed and evolved over time. So, sugar until the 18th century was the monopoly of a very privileged group of people, and then became something much larger. So its symbol as like, of power changed over time to be a much more universal symbol. And same with dollhouses,” said Bermúdez-Silverman in a video from The California African American Museum where her artwork is currently installed.
After migrating to the United States from Guatemala to reunite with her mother at only 17 years old, Jackie Amézquita ties locations and borders into much of her artwork. This was the case in her piece, “Gathering Number Two.”
The artwork was produced from a gathering of 12 people eating food in a unique way using handmade slabs as plates made from the soil of several locations in Los Angeles County.
They ate Central American-inspired dishes with their fingers and drank from frozen orange peels while seated on crates. The remains are her artwork.
Amézquita will host an artist lecture webinar to engage with the community and answer questions about her artwork including what is displayed in the “Just Food” exhibit March 8, at 11 a.m.
Pre-register at the Fullerton College Art Gallery website.
Fullerton College Gallery Art Director Carol Henke planned the “Just Food” exhibit two years in advance. Henke shared that she has a generational attachment to food justice because her mother, who started the first certified farmer’s market in Orange County, strongly believed in the movement.
Much like the artists, Henke’s ties to the theme of the art show are deeply personal.
“When I became a mother it sort of renewed my focus on, you know, everyone should have access to clean, healthy food. Then of course the pandemic has really exacerbated that already existing problem. It’s a big issue. Then, I see these artists that are working on those topics and it just made sense to pull it together in that way,” she shared.
Henke is able to display artwork because of the virtual format that would not otherwise be available due to factors such as location or the issue of shipping cost. This allows her to include Bermúdez-Silverman’s artwork even as it is currently installed at The California African American Museum in Los Angeles.
In a previous online exhibit, Henke was able to include a piece that was located overseas. Previous exhibits can be seen on the Fullerton College Art Department website.
Students and the community can follow the art gallery’s Instagram for continued content on the Just Food exhibit and future events.
In an effort to contribute to food justice, the gallery is also connecting students with the Healthy Hornet Drive-Thru to provide free weekly meals, condoms, period products and diapers upon request.