Artist Spotlight | Elizabeth Chapin

On the connection between food and art

When we last caught up with Elizabeth Chapin in October 2014, she was preparing for a solo show at Wally Workman Gallery. After perusing the artist’s incredible portraits, we were struck by the evocative use of food in her work. Chapin, who studied at both the University of Virginia and Parsons The New School for Design, says the food in her paintings is meant to create a universal connection between viewer, subject, and artist. “Food is something that we all partake in — we all have to. I think how you approach food is connected with how you love yourself.”

Food is also a way we connect with our past. “It’s all connected together,” she says. “The way you [prepare food] connects back to the way it was done for you, and to the people that are no longer here who taught you to make those things.” In “Margaret and Lester” (above), the artist pays homage to an older couple who would host Chapin for dinner when she first arrived in Austin in 1999. “I loved the combination of their hospitality and warmth towards me. Politically, socially we were very different, but they were welcoming me in this beautiful way.” The deviled eggs in the picture are meant to represent more than the memory of a pleasant dinner between friends. “It reminded me of my childhood and my grandparents.” For many viewers, including the Alabama woman who recently purchased the original painting, the feeling is mutual.


Image courtesy of Elizabeth Chapin

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