Watch: A short film about artist Nicole Finger by filmmaker Eric Minh Swenson
Food as the ultimate universal and inclusive subject matter is loaded with personal memory and attachments. I've always been intrigued by the idea of elevating ordinary subjects through art. As sweets and baked goods, in particular, have become ever more taboo in our societal concerns over health, these images are almost reminiscent of idolatry or fossils of a past time in our memories and thus elevated even more.
I strive to reach a high level of realism while not sacrificing the rich, textural quality of the paint as it aligns itself so perfectly to the sensuous and luscious attributes of the subject itself.
Pop Art Still-Life Painting
Still-lifes are realistic depictions of objects, which can vary in subject. Some feature cut flowers, fruit, and wine to name a few. Still-lifes can be a celebration of material pleasures, or it can be a metaphor for greater meanings such as ephemerality or brevity of human existence. Still-life painting began as an artistic genre in the Netherlands during the early 1600s. Many of the objects in these early works depict symbolic religious messages or concepts of temperance. Pieter Claesz's 1628 Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill exemplifies how certain objects can denote greater meanings. Claesz oil painting depicts a skull, a quill, ink, a drinking glass, and lamp with no light. The piece may be interpreted as a comment on writing, learning, and the arts, as insignificant—mere vanity.
Today, artists continue to create still-lifes. Nicole Finger of Skidmore Contemporary Art takes on a traditional painting method with modern-day subjects. Her most recent still-life subjects are donuts. Similar to the detail and craft of 1600 still-life works, Finger uses oil paint to create her realistic pieces. Finger's skillful use of light and shadow exemplifies her ability to transfer real-life onto canvas. The detailed sprinkles which lay on a bed of glazed chocolate in her piece Snug Six capture donuts in their most realistic manner. Similarly in her piece So Jelly, the powdered sugar delicately rests atop gentle yet perfect jelly-filled donuts. Viewers are drawn into Finger's delectable representations of food, not only for its realistic quality, but for its appetizing quality as well.