Jan 23, 2018
30 Under 30, Class of ’18: Emma Orlow, Independent Food Curator
Most Likely to: Have a dollhouse in their adult home
Favorite Quote: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!” – John Waters
Food isn’t generally a medium associated with art, but that hasn’t stopped Emma Orlow. After studying “Food Art as Body Politics” at NYU, Emma began pushing creative boundaries, making art with food. At just 22, she already has impressive clients under her belt, like Urban Outfitters and Dazed Magazine. She co-founded Scratch n’ Sniff Studio in hopes of fusing the food and art worlds even further, working heavily with texture, color, and smell to create full sensorial experiences.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
When I was in high school, I co-founded a web series called the Do Not Enter Diaries, by teenagers for teenagers! It landed us a feature on the front page of the NY Times. But in terms of making food art, I distinctly remember in high school being assigned to follow Sophie Calle’s “Monochromatic Diet” project in my art class. This meant everyday for a week you would have a different color each day that you could only eat. That was the first time I remember connecting food with art.
When did your occupation become real to you?
At NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study, I concentrated on “Food Art as Body Politics.” The study focused on female artists who use food as a medium of their art practice. But it was only recently that I began to see that my interest in food-based art could be a money-making endeavor. I had been doing freelance projects for chefs and artists, and then this year I began doing this type of work under the name Scratch ‘n Sniff Studio. We had our edible art launch at Urban Outfitters’ Space Ninety 8. I got hired to create art with dollhouse miniatures and food for a restaurant that’s opening in Greenpoint called Bar Annicka.
How does your neighborhood inform your work?
Living in Bed-Stuy, I am especially cognizant of my role as a gentrifier. But it also means that I feel more of an urgency to connect and understand the people of my community and create spaces that are actually relevant.
What do you feel is most challenging about being where you are now?
There are so few healthy eating options in my area, and the “organic” supermarkets are incredibly expensive. Nevertheless there are a few really great food programs in my area: Food Not Bombs which serves free food in Herbert Von King Park, as well as a few CSAs and community gardens. I feel inspired to join these space. But likewise, since my art/ curatorial work involves food, I really try to focus on accessibility in the experiences I create.
Why I love working with food as an artistic medium is that it debunks how “high art” spaces make us engage with art. When you’re a child, you’re encouraged to have a sensory experience with art. But as adults our relationship to these art spaces becomes sterilized. Not only is it not a particularly sensory experience, but in order to “get it” you usually have to a degree. Food, as my art medium, seeks to democratize the public’s ability to experience and enjoy art!
What’s most rewarding?
Being able to create art in an area that is often not included in the conversation.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
More recently, I was featured in a Dazed Magazine portfolio in which I curated different artists approaching the food world. It’s been a very exciting year!
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
I would love to create a permanent food space that has different artists come in as pop-up “chefs”, to create an immersive eating experience every month. One that is actually affordable for the local Bed-stuy community. Being asked to create more art for food spaces; creating a compostable art show, and curating a show with the Museum of Food and Drink.
What’s next for you?
Working on a project for Valentine’s Day about edible, aphrodisiac art; and working with a friend to do experiential history of the soda fountain that explores access and misconceptions about wellness.
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