NSCAD students FEAST on pressing matters

24 artists contributed work to show about food

4 min read
A person smiles while sitting at a table with art on it.
caption Brea McAllister was one of seven students who curated FEAST as a part of her food craft and culture class as NSCAD.
Ben Dornan

In gallery three of the Anna Leonowens Gallery on Wednesday, there was plenty of food and nothing to eat.

Just under 30 artists, curators and visitors met in conversation about FEAST, an exhibition about food.

The 24-artist show includes work by Abby Spooner, whose piece, Sandwich, delves into food insecurity. Spooner’s Sandwich is a large sculpture made of foam mats, bed sheets, reusable grocery bags and bathmats.

An over-sized sandwich made out of foam mats, bed sheets, reusable grocery bags and bathmats.
caption Abby Spooner’s Sandwich is a sculpture about food insecurity and the weight of food.
Ben Dornan

The oversized sandwich has mould on its bread and receipts spilling out of its sides. Spooner told attendees that the receipts are an attempt to remind the audience of the rising cost of food. The mould, said Spooner, represents the all-too-common realization that you’ve let your over-priced produce rot away in the fridge.

It’s a relevant topic for Nova Scotians. According to Feed Nova Scotia, 6.9 million people across Canada, including 213,000 in Nova Scotia, lived in food-insecure homes in 2022.

Spooner’s work about the weight food places on us is one of 23 pieces in FEAST. The show was curated by seven students at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) as part of their food craft and culture class.

Brea McAllister is one of the curators and spoke about the exhibition in an interview after the artist talk Wednesday.

“Our aim was to have people see and experience and sort of manoeuvre through all of these individual experiences of food,” said McAllister.

Spooner’s Sandwich lies next to Ode to Joy, a piece by Sonia Chow. Also a larger-than-life piece of food, Ode to Joy is a chocolate bar made of salvaged wood and wrapped in an emergency blanket. Across the gallery, Angie Reid’s Feast Crown for Christmas Dinner is an ode to the underappreciated masterminds behind holiday feasts.

A crown made out dehydrated orange slices, crystals, and wool.
caption Angie Reid’s Feast Crown for Christmas Dinner was one of the pieces on display at FEAST
Ben Dornan

The centrepiece of the exhibit is a dining table housing six crafted pieces, such as Metabolize & Metastasize by Baily Smith and Fine Cutlery. No. 3 (Efficiency) by Julian. Each place setting holds a different piece of art.

A table with crafts at its six table settings sits in the middle of a gallery, surrounded by two paintings on the wall and a podium.
caption The centrepiece of the exhibition was a table that housed six pieces of crafted art.
Ben Dornan

In contrast to those works that hung in isolation, the curators placed certain pieces together at the table to allow them to “speak to one other,” as people would at a feast, said curator Alice Shirtliffe during the talk on Wednesday.

McAllister described the tension between isolated works and the table display as one of many investigated in FEAST.

“Our relationships to food can be both rotten and ripe in the way that food objects themselves can be both rotten and ripe,” she said.

“We got a ton of submissions and a really wide variety,” said McAllister. “We took a logistic approach where we decided to organize things by how they would be displayed and go through section by section that way”

With over 50 submissions for the show, McAllister said that they had only two minutes to consider each one. “It was chaos,” she said of the three-hour window she and her classmates used to curate the entire show.

Once the show came together, FEAST had its opening on Nov. 23, attracting roughly 250 visitors, according to McAllister. The show will remain open for interested onlookers to take in until Dec. 2.

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About the author

Ben Dornan

Ben Dornan is a student in the master of journalism program at King's. He loves writing.

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