October 13, 2017

Salad For President

The blog. The book. The movement.

It started with a delicious-but-not-so-photogenic salad of grilled sardines, watercress, black olives, and celery slaw. “Food photography is so different than other genres,” says Julia Sherman, artist behind Salad for President. “It’s important to not be hungry when you’re trying to shoot food. It takes time to get it right!”

9781419724114.IN01Sherman has definitely gotten it right. Her debut cookbook is filled with edible masterpieces—all artfully composed with attention to color, balance, and scale. “As a first-time author, I imagined I’d get a lot of guidance. Not true! I did so much of it myself: photography, styling, art direction… Sometimes you just have to figure it out and make it happen.”

The recipes themselves, however, were intentionally born out of collaborations. Since the 2012 launch of her blog, Sherman has worked with fellow artists, preparing their salad recipes in locales as intimate as a home kitchen or as grand as the rooftop garden Sherman opened atop MoMA PS1 in 2014. The idea came after Sherman left Columbia University with an MFA in New Genres.

“I was sick of the isolation of the art world and didn’t like being alone in my studio, trying to come up with some brilliant idea,” she says. “I realized my real talent is the way I connect with strangers.” That eventually evolved into connecting with artists.

Simple on its surface, the project questions long-held tenets about art. When does making a salad with an artist and sharing that experience become art unto itself? How does one be an artist without the trappings we’ve come to expect? Sherman’s answer is simple: “An artist is defined by a compulsion to pull apart things people take for granted. Their curiosity, engagement, sensitivity, and community are more important than the objects they produce.” Even if it’s something really tasty. —Michelle Padgett

The Details: Pick up Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists at TenOverSix at The Joule, 1511 Commerce Street.