EVANSTON, Ill. --- Stephanie Dean's colorful photographs of tabletops laden with edibles are composed in the style of 17th-century Dutch still life paintings.
But her arrangements don't focus on wild birds or animals hunted for sport or fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers plucked from a nearby orchard. Rather, Dean's images depict grocery store packaged foods that put contemporary consumption into historical focus.
Dean's works are featured in the Dittmar Memorial Gallery's summer exhibition, "Modern Groceries," which opens June 24 and runs through Aug. 11. The gallery is located on the first floor of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University's Evanston campus. Both the exhibition and an opening reception at the gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 25, are free and open to the public.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the Dittmar Gallery is sponsoring a drawing for a $100 Whole Foods Gift Card for everyone who visits the exhibition. The drawing will be held July 30, and the winner need not be present to win.
Dean's 2009 photo "Still Life of Daffodils" depicts a grouping of fresh whole oranges, a porcelain plate and white lace doily topped with peeled orange sections, a labeled plastic produce container of lettuce, and small and large vases of colorful flowers. A green beetle sits atop one of the exposed citrus sections.
Her 2009 photo, "Still Life of The Blues and Other Analogies," features two thin lobster legs protruding from the opening of a clear plastic produce bag. Nearby, a wedge of store bought labeled cheese that is balanced on its back edge, rests against a circular glass bottle of Slivovitz (Balkan plum brandy). Several ripe pomegranates, a serving plate with more lobster pieces, a small bowl of half-eaten lobster remnants and a blue butterfly also are spread across the table.
Where insects in the 17th-century were meant to remind the viewer of the transience of life and beauty of nature, in Dean's photographs they serve as a reminder that they are an integral part of our ecosystem.
Two recent photographs -- "Still Life of Cookie Sandwich" (2010) and "Still Life of Pork Butt" (2009) -- are among other works exhibited in her show.
Dean received an MFA in photography from Columbia College in 2005 and a certificate in museum studies from Northwestern University in 2009. She is an adjunct faculty member at Oakton Community College in Skokie and Des Plaines.
Works from her "Modern Groceries" series have been displayed in Chicago, New York and Stockholm. For more on the artist, visit www.stephaniedean.com.
For more on the exhibition, call the Dittmar at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, e-mail email@example.com or visit the Dittmar website at www.dittmar.northwestern.edu.
(Nathalie Rayter, a junior in the School of Education and Social Policy, contributed to this story.)