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Mixed-Media Works Take On the American Food System

Abby Elizabeth’s sculptural art examines the destructive effects of cheap chemicals and global militarization.
Monopoly On Life, 2015. 30.5 in x 40 in, kamut, barley, rice, corn, spray paint, game pices, and sand on aluminum. All photos: Paradigm Gallery+Studio

Social commentary and the creation of art to relay, relevant modern-day information shapes the art of Abby Elizabeth. Her pointillist, three-dimensional paintings made with grains, beads, and other tiny objects weave themes of societal concern, such as the state of the global food system, throughout her intricate landscapes and portraits.

One piece titled Subsidized Starvation is a color-coded composite of children’s toys, paints, and corn stuffs, like kernals and cob halves. The complete image forms a young boy drinking ravenously from a Coke can. In a caption accompanying the piece, the artists shares how the US government subsidizes the production of corn “in an effort to make sure we have enough of it and that prices stay low. In turn corn is really cheap, and so the production of sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup becomes a reasonable business move.” The mixed media artist continues, “these calories are cheap and abundant, but are starving our children of the nutrition necessary to thrive.”


Subsidized Starvation, 2015. 31.5 in x 39.5 in, children’s toys, corn, foam, spray paint & acrylic on aluminum

She speaks a little about the economy of food production with The Creators Project, “People eat food. When you think about how many people are on the planet, what we eat and where that food comes from becomes quite significant. Every time we visit the grocery story, order at a restaurant, or plant a seed we make a choice. Those choices will ultimately influence the markets that supply them… It’s a pretty big deal.”

Elizabeth shares the conceit of her work as “an exploration into our convenient yet complicated and pernicious food system. As our food system becomes more industrialized, we should all consider our collective choices.”

Subsidized Starvation, close-up

Ge Bee, 2015. 21 in x 32 in, corn, toys, and spray paint on wood

Ge Bee, detail


Chains, 2016. 12 in x 12 in, barley and rice on aluminum

Chains, detail

Dirty Thirties, panel 1, 2015. 29 in x 16 in, wheat, rice, and barley on PVC

Dirty Thirties, panel 2, 2015

No Place Like Home, 2015. 30 in x30 in, kamut, barley, rice, corn, spray paint and san on aluminum

To see more artwork from Abby Elizabeth, visit her website, here.


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