I set out to create an illustrative mural that would celebrate the cross-section of eras in American foodways explored in PPL's Spring Exhibition; I arrived at a party scene in which families from a variety of eras are coming together to picnic. Inspired by/ created using materials in PPL's collections, I folded together imagery, color palettes, and media textures from a broad range of time periods and sources. My research included domestic periodicals, wartime propaganda posters, and turn-of-the-century children's books; the final image came together through a fun and rigorous exploration of analogue and digital collage/ drawing processes.
While looking at materials in which food played a prominent role, I found myself thinking about food as fantasy: whether featured in an anecdote to housewives, a party of cavorting animals, or a patriotic victory garden, food embodies this idea of ourselves that we realize through a self-actualizing, often theatrical performance. By the food we serve and the way we serve it, we say so much about what we value, who we love, and especially who we want to be.
The decision of an al fresco summertime dining setting was fairly personal. Motivated by my own childhood recollections of family picnics at Colt State Park, and, more recently, a wedding feast for my friends which took place lakeside in Exeter last summer, thoughts of eating outdoors open up some of my warmest and most evocative memories of dining. By creating a singular image on a theatrical scale and tilting the table toward the viewer, I hope to invite each library visitor into this wild party!