Food Art Collaboration

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- The Mississippi University for Women’s Department of Art and Design and the Culinary Arts Institute have collaborated to present “The Art of Food” exhibition, which opened Monday, Oct. 5, at The W Galleries.

This is the first time the Department of Art and Design and the Culinary Arts Institute have collaborated for an exhibition. “The Art of Food” will run Monday through Nov. 5.

“As the gallery director, I’ve been very interested in the MUW Galleries as a site for potential collaboration between departments to enhance student learning,” said Dr. Beverly Joyce, who also is a professor of art history at The W. “I’ve already been collaborating with Erinn Holloway’s classes through our annual Day of the Dead installation and was looking for other opportunities. Since food photography is a part of the Culinary Arts program, I thought a collaboration with our photography professor Shawn Dickey and Chef Alexei Harrison would be appropriate.”

Joyce met with Dickey and Harrison and proposed a collaboration that would culminate with an exhibition in the MUW Galleries. She praised them for their efforts in finalizing the exhibition that will feature work by students Makenzie Funderburk, Mary-Hamel Funderburk, Alexa Hunt, Paige Lovette, Alysha McCalpine, William Thompson and Veronica Wilson.

“It was a joy working with another instructor as talented as Shawn Dickey,” Harrison said. “We eat with our eyes and he taught the students how to turn their plates into an artist's palette full of vibrancy and color. I learned so much from this course as a chef and an instructor. Thank you Dr. Joyce for such a wonderful opportunity!”

Dickey, who is the chair of the Department of Art and Design, said Chef Harrison spoke to him in December 2018 about the need for a food photography course for the culinary majors. He said that discussion was prompted by Joyce’s idea to use The W Galleries as a place of interdisciplinary exchange and to do an Art of Food exhibit. Harrison then talked with Dickey and together they created the culinary special topics food photography course. He said “it is an absolute miracle” that the students produced the level the work they did last semester during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Think of the exhibition as a survey of approaches to food photography,” Dickey said. “The students began by exploring basics of composition -- the elements (line, shape, texture, color and space) followed by the composition principles (balance, movement, repetition, pattern, scale and proportion).

“Next the students explored the typical camera angles employed in food photography -- 45° called the Diner’s Angle, 90° Overhead and 0° Table Level. Then they photographed food using compositional strategies like the Rule of Thirds, visual layering and varying focal points.”

Joyce said the exhibition was originally scheduled for the spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to be rescheduled. Student worker London Roberts will be recognized for assisting the culinary arts students with editing and digitally processing their photographs as per the assignment. The culinary art students were unable to complete that work in the spring due to COVID-19.

“My hope is that students will think broadly about their education and see that their courses are not isolated pockets of learning but rather work together to enhance their development,” Joyce said. “Perhaps this experience will help the culinary arts students who participated with the aesthetic appeal of their food display -- the photographs are really beautiful. Art students, looking at the exhibition, will see another subject matter and expand their aesthetic views.”

Joyce said The W’s galleries remain open and have had artwork from the permanent collection up since late summer. She said the Biennial Faculty Exhibition, which runs through Oct. 23 and features Dickey, Alex Stelioes-Wills, Jim McAnally and Ian Childers, just opened. The hallway gallery showcases Threads: A Survey of Fiber Art, which runs through Oct. 27 and features artwork by Karen Arzamendi, Pauline Crouse, Dr. Kristi DiClemente, who is an assistant professor of history at The W, Aislinn Noltie, Joyce and Melody Vydas and Shirley Boudreaux, who are graduates of The W.

Here is The W Galleries schedule for the rest of the semester: Día de los Muertos Ofrenda (Day of the Dead Altar – Oct. 19 to Nov. 6); BFA Exhibition (Oct. 28 to Nov. 20); WPA Prints from the Permanent Collection (Nov. 2-13); and Japan in the Edo Period: Artwork from the Permanent Collection (Nov. 11-23).


Oct. 8, 2020
Contact: Adam Minichino
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