Vegetable Paper Craft (2023 Maddy Varner Award Winner)

Jennifer Shin (2023)


Vegetable Paper Craft is a research project about making paper from vegetables and fruits and using them for craft. By making books, quilts, and mobiles with these papers, Shin explores the ephemerality of food and its function as food and art.

The project started with the idea that foods are ephemeral objects: they are consumed or decay before our eyes. In her practice, she often uses craft to transcend ephemerality in objects and hold onto their characteristics for the longer term. Expanding the realm of craft to cooking, she looks at the relationship between food, art, and craft. Like craft, so much labor and care go into cooking, only to end up in the most fragile and ephemeral objects that are made to vanish. Inspired by traditional craft techniques such as bookbinding and Korean quilt-making (Jogakbo), Shin creates elaborate sculptures that play with the boundary of food being edible and inedible and art being enjoyed through our eyes and tongue.

Often taking 4 to 7 days to create a single sheet of paper, the process of cooking and drying out all the moisture from vegetables is arduous and laborious. Using both a dehydrator and lithography stones, it is an act of constant care. Then with handcrafts, she strips away their function as food and presents them as art objects.

Shin’s research asks the question, “How can we consume food beyond our tongue?” I am fascinated by moments when food items are illegible as food; when it allows us to rethink our relationship with its materiality and function.

This project was made possible in part by FRFF microgrant #2023-042. Additional images can be found here.