LAZY MOM's Tantalizing Imagery
23 Nov '14 —
LAZY MOM is an exciting collaboration between two artists/surfers, Phyllis Ma and Josie Keefe. Some say the two are simply playing with food, but if anyone else “played with food”, it wouldn’t be a fraction as nice to look at.
Each LAZY MOM image has a distinct point of view. Josie and Phyllis have experience in prop styling and window dressing. With their combined expertise in evoking emotions through the placement of objects, the artists hand craft and expertly sculpt forms and shapes that bring alive a range of feelings while considering our relationship with food. Why else can I not stop thinking about “artificial coloring” when I see the bright yellow orange shredded cheese?
The edible materials bring meaning in themselves and capturing the details of the food brings alive a range of feelings that has not been explored enough. Perhaps that’s what makes LAZY MOM so refreshingly original. Although the artists focus on the physical structure, color, and texture when considering which food item to use, each item carries a preconceived cultural connotation. Avocado = "healthy". Processed meat = “American” Utilizing materials that we have a prior relationship with, LAZY MOM enhances the imagery by providing room for our own context. “Bring Home the Bacon”, featuring bacon on rollers, seems to reference an “I think it’d taste better wrapped in bacon” culture.
Even without the reference to culture, there is something unique that lies in the physical phenomenon of the food sculptures. Observing an image of LAZY MOM’s sunflower frozen in ice, I can vividly imagine what it’d be like to touch the tingly hairy under leaf, I can feel the prickliness of the pins, I can sense the chill of the ice block and I also receive a tinge of sunny warmth from the yellow petals peering through the translucent frost. An encounter with LAZY MOM is as delightful as having a mouthful of hot chocolate lava cake right out of the oven, oozing and bubbling with liquid chocolate glory, mixed with the exhilarating cold contrast of frozen vanilla ice cream. A sensational experience waits in each LAZY MOM image.
I had a chance to speak to Josie and Phyllis right before they stepped out to pick materials for their next shoot.
Tina Yang, Tforia: How did the food sculptures and photography come about?
Phyllis Ma, LAZY MOM: From my end of it, I would help people style their photos but I would never be behind the camera and be a part of styling. LAZY MOM was a chance to be a part of the whole process.
Josie Keefe, LAZY MOM: With prop styling, I only have control over one aspect, so it’s fun to run the whole show, from selecting materials to photography. I get a lot of specific skills from arranging everything at a certain angle, for example with a pile of books: I’ll be thinking all day long, as to how I’ll arrange them to look a certain way. Instead, I’m using that skill to do something a bit more fun.
P: And more useless! When I’m at work, I’m deciding how to arrange a product, like a pair of glasses. I always end up fantasizing about arranging random objects for no purpose or reason.
J: We have two zines; the first one that started the project was “Lazy Wow”.
P: The second one is “Lazy Chow”. We’re working on another one right now.
T: Do you ever eat the materials while working on a LAZY MOM shoot?
P: Oh yes!
J: At one point we built a lot with candy. That was really hard for me because I kept eating it.
P: Also the popsicles never made it into the shoot. The idea was more exciting than the photo. We bought an eighteen pack of popsicles and it melted so fast. We just kept eating them and it just got really messy.
J: We also have to wash our hands before we can shoot anything, to keep the camera safe.
T: The food looks insanely bright, as if it were designed to be overly appetizing
J: Honestly, the food companies do a lot of the work for us.
P: They do! We really look for the processed food sometimes because it’s such a weird color.
J: American cheese is just flats of weird color.
T: The baloney…
P: It has text on it!
J: Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) says you shouldn’t eat food your grandma wouldn’t recognize. We end up shooting food our grandma wouldn’t recognize.
T: What are some ideas you have for the next issue?
P: We went to the flower shop and got this tulip.
J: We also got these purple potatoes in mesh, a butter sculpture, which we shot before, and candy coat magic shells – we haven’t used this yet!
P: Also, we smashed up a bunch of fortune cookies, just to read the fortunes. Today we’re going to the dollar stores in Ridgewood. There are a lot of weird stores around here.
T: Any current or future projects outside the zine?
J: We’re doing wall paper now.
P: The project was commissioned by a hotel in Toronto, based on all our existing works. We did cutouts and made a repeat pattern for them.
J: We’re making a surf board, that’s LAZY MOM’s next project. Also, we’re eventually coming out with a printed book.
T: Have you two worked together on other projects before?
P: No, this is our first collaboration.
J: We surf together, if you count that as a project. Maybe the family that surfs together stays together?