rice, resin, masking tape, dimensions variable, 2012

Six years ago, after having encountered grain vendors on almost every block of my neighborhood I began thinking actively about “rice economies.”  This term refers to countries and regions with low labor costs, as it is labor-intensive to cultivate rice. The vendors in my neighborhood offer various price points, qualities and varieties of rice, all of which brought to mind further questions about the nature of “rice economies” and their specific values and consequences. This eventually led me to the idea of rice itself as a medium.

The neighborhood street vendors who offer quick, cheap street meals in my neighborhood offered another key point of departure in this vein of exploration. These “economy rice” meals, targeting the working population, typically offer anywhere from 10-15 troughs of pre-cooked food including meat, vegetables, eggs and tofu. Customers select a combination, which is served accompanied by a portion of steamed white rice in a Styrofoam container.

In contrast, the plastic to-go containers I have utilized here are used to carry out/deliver food from higher-end restaurants. As a pack-rat, I had amassed a large quantity of them (whereas I would throw away the Styrofoam containers). As I delved further into thinking about the economics of food, I started to experiment with using rice as a medium and the plastic take-away boxes as the containing form. The result is a series of pieces made from mundane materials using a commonplace subject, trees, as a means to explore the tension between perceived high art and a popular/craft aesthetic while addressing themes of waste, the economy and labor, as well as the function of the gallery space.

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