Tag: 3.2

These papers, drawn from our cochaired session, The Gustatory Turn in American Art, at the College Art Association 2017 Annual Conference, illustrate how artists and viewers have used the platform of food to investigate connections between aesthetics and social politics. Contributors include Katherine Manthorne, Aileen Tsui, Lauren Freese, and Margaretta Lovell.

Consider the humble raisin. In a world where foodstuffs are increasingly dissociated from their place of origin, why does the raisin continue to be associated with one locale, when they are in fact grown globally, from Chile and Argentina to Turkey? We should ask why when we “think raisins” do we “think California,” as an oft-repeated advertising mantra instructs us?

In times of economic and environmental crisis, illustrators for the popular press often produced images of charity that worked alongside text to explain philanthropic processes and to demonstrate the effectiveness of various types of food aid. In addition to this instructional function, depictions of food aid reinforced social boundaries between the recipients of charity, viewers, and those with the ability to offer their time and resources. As a force for difference, these images utilize food and philanthropy as legible and significant markers of class.

Margaretta M. Lovell, Jay D. McEvoy, Jr., Professor of American Art, Art History Department, University of California, Berkeley

The visual rhetorics incorporated into these images trigger (in different ways) both physical appetite and social appetite, and their mechanisms for doing so appear to have remained constant in recent decades despite new competition from expansive digital venues. They incorporate power relations, aesthetic pleasure, and voyeurism. But food aesthetics are neither universal nor isolated; they echo (and feed) the cultural and political contexts in which they circulate so we can see change over time within underlying sameness.

M. Elizabeth (Betsy) Boone and Lauren Lessing, Executive Editors

Recent trends in the scholarship of American Art have created a more capacious arena of study—one that accommodates and promotes voices, subjects, and approaches that might have seemed unlikely, if not unthinkable, two decades ago. Panorama began publication during this crucial period of expansion, and its commitment to methodological innovation, inclusion, and diversity springs from this fact. The existence of Panorama is a response to and also stands ready to respond to this growth in the field.

Do we have a responsibility to the nation in our teaching and writing on American art? How would this responsibility be enacted and can it be done without seeming to be jingoistic? Does a new understanding of our nation impact our teaching and study of American art? How do you feel about the idea of a national narrative? Have you been challenged to rethink the relationship between American art, the nation, and its citizenry at any time in the last year?

Patriotism can involve loving one’s homeland for the diversity of cultural enclaves it encompasses, while not excluding the rest of humanity or claiming the superiority of our homeland to every other on earth. To be sure, global thinking (in the form of economic globalization or cultural imperialism) has a lot of negative baggage attached to it, but having a cosmopolitan outlook should be encouraged in tandem with patriotic thinking, not seen as its opposite.

Now is a difficult time to be an American. Never have we witnessed such a massive onslaught on—and undoing of—the basic tenets of decency in public life, freedom of protest, freedom of speech, freedom to breathe clean air, freedom to make decisions about our reproductive health, the protection of minority rights, equal justice under the law, and respect for science and empirical grounds of truth. Rarely have we seen the door slammed shut with such force against ideals of international cooperation and respect.