Exhibit of paintings explores the “sweet tooth” and food’s cultural influence

January 26, 2010

The McDaniel College Department of Art and Art History presents an exhibit, Sweet Tooth: Paintings by Christi Harris, Jan. 26 – Feb. 19 on campus in the Esther Prangley Rice Gallery in Peterson Hall.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. A closing reception, including an Artist’s Talk, will be held 7-9 p.m. Feb. 19. The Artist’s Talk begins at 7:30 p.m.

For information and gallery hours, call 410-857-2595 or visit www.mcdaniel.edu/5531.htm.

Harris’ work and research interests center on food – its consumption, cultural and personal meaning and its aesthetics.

The Hampton, Va., resident says she sees food as “an intermediary between family history and body image.” Certain foods, she says, serve as symbols. For example, slabs of colorless meat convey the difficulty of family relationships in a context where being forced to eat everything on your plate equated to obedience. Other works, such as her icing paintings, celebrate the “ridiculous obsession” her family has with cake and sweets. The Jell-O series, “Crowning Glory,” represents the “disgusting concoctions” made from gelatin during the 1950s and through the 1980s.

“All of these works combine women’s roles of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, ironing, and sewing, with food,” she says. “Cake bears a special place in the heart of the domestic goddess. Present at every major family celebration, the cake was the proof positive that things were perfect.

Harris teaches Foundation and Advanced Studio courses through the Department of Fine Art and Art History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va.

View Harris’ work at www.christilynnharris.com.