Comfort food meets scratch and sniff technology in Emily Lawrence’s playful, poignant art exhibit about Alzheimer’s at the Craig Gallery, Alderney Landing.
The viewer steps on foot-shaped pieces of shag carpet, as cozy as old knitted slippers, to look at luscious photographs of 1950s and 1960s home-kitchen favourites that smell, when scratched, like apple pie, or birthday cake, or fresh white bread just out of the oven.
Lawrence, exhibiting Scratch & Sniff Menu through Oct. 7, was inspired by her grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s to create an initial series of non-scratch and sniff photographs of her grandmother’s favourite foods which connected her to her fading memories.
For the scratch and sniff series, she worked with a group of residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s at Berkeley Halifax.
She asked them about their favourite foods “aided by my Betty Crocker cookbook collection and oodles of jam thumbprint cookies,” she says in her artist’s statement.
Lawrence explores how smell stimulates memory and how essential food and food preparation are to human life and memory. Many of the residents talked to her about how wonderful their mother’s cooking was.
This exhibit, with a pastel, colour scheme shared by the images, the foot pads and comfy stools, takes viewers to Grandma’s house, reminds them of their own childhood — that pink-iced birthday cake is a cultural touchstone – and, perhaps, also reminds them of reading Pat the Bunny to a sleepy child at bedtime.
Scratch & Sniff Menu is a wonderful example of sophisticated, intelligent art expressing an idea with humour and humanity in a way everyone can understand.
Lawrence is a NSCAD University graduate, an interdisciplinary artist living in Dartmouth and currently artist-in-residence at the Macphee Centre for Creative Learning.
Dartmouth metal sculptor Barbara Schmeisser is also exhibiting steel, flower sculptures — delicate, intricate and strong — in You, Me, Them . . . Us in the Craig Case Galleries.
This is a continuation of her 2017 series of plants found in Denmark and Canada with, she says, “additional steel plant portrayals relevant to the theme of people’s response to plants be they iconic, common weed, native or transplant.”
She has been inspired by artists including Cal Lane, Elisabeth Brim, Alexander Calder, Giuseppe Penone and Claes Oldenburg.
NOTE: There is a huge Alexander Calder exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through February.
Next week is very busy for The Craig Gallery with Blue Mondays Life Drawing Monday, the 20th Annual Mosaic for Mental Health opening Oct. 11 and open for Nocturne, Oct. 13, 6 to midnight, which also features the Nostos Dance Collective with Women of 100 Faces in the market area and an interactive collaborative project, That Which We Cannot Own, in the theatre and rotunda.