Dionysos 2017

John Kindness
so it is: April 7 – August 6, 2017
Lime fresco

We may not all eat the same things but we all feel hunger. There is no better way to unite strangers than by getting them to share a meal.


Kindness has said that when visiting a place for the first time, he goes to the local supermarket or provisions store to get an idea of the kind of neighborhood he is in. He believes that food can be a universal leveler. “We may not all eat the same things but we all feel hunger,” he says. “And there is no better way to unite strangers than by getting them to share a meal.”

George Mitchell, who brokered peace negotiations in Northern Ireland leading to the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, was asked what the turning point was in the talks. He said it was when all parties started having lunch together, with the single rule that folks could talk about anything at the meal table except politics. “There is sort of this alchemy that causes people who have shared their food, to be more open to sharing in general.”

When asked to conceive a new work for the Mattress Factory, Kindness decided to focus on the subject of food, and to find out what Pittsburghers liked to eat. The resultant fresco celebrates provender, which appeals to the Pittsburgh palate.

The form of anthropomorphosis in the work has many cultural precedents, from satirical characters in Roman theater to the allegorical works of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, from the surreal hybrids of Salvador Dali to the cast of comical product packaging characters of childhood, made from sugar cubes, potato chips or licorice candy.

Kindness playfully, yet respectfully, intermingles “high” and “low” art references with an infectious sense of fun.


Curated by John Carson

About the Artist

John Kindness invents new ways of using traditional media, such as ceramics, mosaic, and encaustic, to create satirical visual commentaries on political, societal and cultural mores. As well as being a consummate craftsman, with a sensitivity and respect for materials, he is also a storyteller, with a strong sense of humor and narrative running through much of his work. He manages to cleverly combine historical references with allusions to popular culture.