Visitors to the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center’s annual exhibition The Art of Food, which is up now, have come to expect a particular brand of art — that which is made from or inspired by food. So, at first glance, the woven paper constructions of Jonpaul Smith come as a surprise. A closer examination, however, reveals his medium: The ubiquitous processed food packaging that permeates American culture.
Smith hand-cuts long strips from product packages and weaves them together into bold, tapestry-like works.
From a distance, one can enjoy the abstract shapes and colors, but can pick out recognizable imagery up close. Tiny elements from popular culture emerge, such as Tony the Tiger, Sponge Bob, Little Debbie, Uncle Ben — the iconic cast of characters that populate our processed-saturated food supply.
Smith, who is 31 and a resident of Madeira, is enamored with product packaging, specifically its patterns.
“The world is filled with patterns, in nature as in consumerism,” he says, as we look at his Carnegie show together. “After collecting packaging for so long, I began to see particular colors commonly used for certain types of products, such as blue for cleaning supplies.”
The Art of Food is on view through April 15 at the Carnegie Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Covington. Go here to read Tamera Lenz Muente's full feature.