You are what you eat might be one of the most overused health cliches, but Mark Menjivar has given it a new spin with his portrait series of the same name. His subjects faces and bodies don’t figure into the photos at all; instead, he photographs their uncensored refrigerators; surprisingly interesting stuff.
As his artist statement explains, the photos aren’t just meant to be voyeuristic looks into the homes of other Americans:
For three years I traveled around the country exploring food issues. The more time I spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more I began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities. An intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits. A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, “May I photograph the interior of your fridge?” to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. Each fridge is photographed “as is”. Nothing added, nothing taken away. These are portraits of the rich and the poor. Vegetarians, Republicans, members of the NRA, those left out, the under appreciated, former soldiers in Hitler’s SS, dreamers, and so much more. We never know the full story of one’s life. My hope is that we will think deeply about how we care. How we care for our bodies. How we care for others. And how we care for the land.
We practically devour the Refrigerator Look Books over at Well+Good NYC; it’s always fascinating to peer into other peoples’ kitchens, especially those who we regard as health role models. But Menjivar proves that it’s not just nutritionists and yoga instructors whose ‘fridges deserve to be on display; his portraits show a cross section of America that’s nearly as informative as U.S. obesity rates and statistics about food deserts. It’s easy to talk about the Standard American Diet in theory, but a look at the vast differences between food stocks in just a few of his portraits shows that there are some major discrepancies in our country when it comes to what we eat.