Intricate Victorian-style cameo portraits carved out of Oreo cream, old-fashioned hand-cross-stitched Chex cereal, and elaborate bread embroidery are just some of the pieces that make up artist Judith Klausner's new series "From Scratch."
Klausner carves the cameos directly on the filling of open-face Oreo cookies using toothpicks for the outlines and sewing pins for the finer details of the hairstyles and eyes.
For her Chex cross-stitch pieces, Judith had to experiment with the various types of Chex cereal to see which piece would work the best. The rice chex are too fragile and the wheat chex were too small, but the corn chex had the correct structural integrity to allow her to weave written messages onto the cereal.
In using these food products, Judith Klausner hopes to challenge the mindset that things were "better back when," for instance, before corn syrup and 15-letter preservatives.
In her series "From Scratch" Klausner tries to draw attention to the little-discussed benefits of the rise of processed food. She argues that processed foods let women spend less time cooking from scratch and freed them up to a world of new choices.
"When you have someone in every household whose dedicated full-time job whether they liked it or not was to cook everything from scratch-- yes, you're going to have everything made at home," she told Here & Now's Robin Young. "But that means that women didn't have choices, and I think we're in a much better position now."
That's not to say that Klausner is against home cooking or eating local. She says she doesn't want eating local to be cast as a moral choice between good and evil. Because local food is often more expensive, Klausner says the choice to eat it has more to do with class than morals.
"Ideally we should work towards having a future where fresh and local food isn't more expensive and everyone can afford it," she said. " But I think right now having it cast entirely as a moral question really glosses over the issue of class that's involved."
- Public Radio Kitchen: Playing with food
- Judith Klausner, artist
This segment aired on September 1, 2011.