What Food Looks Like
By Catherine Slye
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In January 2015 I started a new project I named “What Food Looks Like” through which I am investigating and photo-documenting our local food community. I decided to dedicated one full year to this project.
As an artist and photographer I set out to create a project that was centered on a social issue, one that would allow me to examine my community and my role in it. I asked myself: What can I do? How can I make change using the skills and talents I have? How can I affect my community?
I spent several weeks thinking about and examining what I think is important and which of those things are happening here and now in Phoenix. I chose to focus on food. I believe photography can be inspiring, enlightening, timely and relevant. I believe art has the power to change us. I thought that if I could document what is and what isn’t happening in our community and get these images out there—well then, almost anything could happen, couldn’t it?
When I came up with the name “What Food Looks Like” for the project, the whole idea coalesced. I would seek out and photograph the growing of food and the lack of food instances in the form of urban community gardens, farmers and farms, organizations and groups that are working to eliminate food deserts and food insecurity. Plus, individuals, entrepreneurs, specialty food growers, ranchers and more.
So far, in the first quarter of 2015 I’ve visited 19 places. I’ve started a Google Map to track them. They are: Mesa Urban Garden, The Urban Garden, The Micro Farm Project, Growhouse, Gilbert Farmer’s Market, Recycled City Compost, Arizona Microgreens, The Orchard Community Learning Center, PHX Renews, Garfield Community Garden, Hayden Flour Mills, Hope House Farms, St. Mary’s Foodbank, The Simple Farm, St. Vincent de Paul, plus several private home garden and chicken set ups.
Right now I’m photographing the eight neighborhoods in City Central South. In 2011, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation had a study done through the ASU School of Sustainability on quality food access in City Central South. I’m using the study as a mapping tool to photograph the stores, gardens and what is not in the neighborhoods. This is big part of the picture of food – the lack of it. The lack of access to quality food options. We need to fix that.
There’s still so much that I have yet to see and photograph. I am looking to connect with people and places—livestock and milk production, schools with garden/learning components, foodshelfs, shelters and kitchens that feed those in need, large farms/farmers that sell at farmer’s markets and additional community gardens. My goal is at the end of the one year to display the best of the images in an art show and publish them in a book format. Contact me at email@example.com if you would like to discuss my project or you want to use my images for your organization, business or personal use.
Catherine Slye is a photographer and mixed media artist. Catherine works with photography, paper, fabric, thread, pencil and stitches, both hand and machine made.
Catherine has made Phoenix, AZ her home since 2007. All of her mixed media work revolves around the city and the built environment. Her artwork and photography has been shown and published locally in 2010, ’12, ’14 and ’15. In early 2015 she embarked on a year-long project, What Food Looks Like, to photo-document food access and systems here in the Valley.
During 9-5 Catherine works for an online art & design college, producing content and visual information. In the rest of her time, she’s working on her art and photography projects.
Some have called her “wild and effervescent”, but that could be only when she’s discussing her projects.
For images and more: www.catslye.com