CMU undergraduate Selina Du graduated in 2020 with a hybrid BHA (Bachelor of Humanities and Arts) degree, focusing on Economics, Art, and Business. For her senior capstone project, she developed Comfort Food for Thought, a dinner performance and installation featuring “socially charged food art” that explored themes of westernization, appropriation, and cross-cultural identity. Du’s event was supported in part by Microgrant #2020-039 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier.
Du writes: The impetus for this installation project, Comfort Food for Thought, was to explore my interest in human behavior through culturally and socially charged food art. I wanted to see and explore how individuals respond to culturally detourned dishes in a food interaction dinner event. In addition, I wanted to understand the role food plays in the understanding certain cultural and social issues, including consumption, capitalism, westernization and cultural misappropriation.
Comfort Food for Thought is inspired by projects like Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and Daniel See’s A Dinner Party series that explored the use of food, dining, and collective eating as a vehicle for art and provocation. My project is also indebted to Jasmine Cho’s Cookies project, but instead of utilizing a dessert, I created new dinner recipes for the purpose of presenting cultural and social commentary.
The project was installed and performed two weeks before the projected date due to fears of the Coronavirus getting more dangerous. Nine students got to experience Comfort Food for Thought in February 2020. More information about this project is available in this image archive, this sample menu [PDF], and Selina Du’s capstone project report [PDF].