October 28, 2023–March 24, 2024

Digital Iridescence: Jell-O in New Media

Jell-O’s presence in contemporary art is an extension of its visual and cultural history. Since its invention in 1897 the cheap yet luxurious pantry staple has attracted customers with its taste as well as its visible and tactile sensory delights. Early and mid-20th-century recipe pamphlets full of colorful prints appealed to consumers’ desires for the “sparkling,” “luscious,” “desired,” “decorative,” and “quivery-tender” dessert. These invocations of Jell-O’s shimmering appearance accompanied assurances of the food’s health benefits, affordability, and easy preparation, all as a way of indulging its gendered and idealized target market: housewives, brides-to-be, and mothers.

In “Digital Iridescence: Jell-O in New Media,” five contemporary artists use gelatin in video works to explore themes like embodiment and perception—fitting ideas to investigate through Jell-O, which is bodily and flesh like, made from animal matter, and distorts and plays with observation and vision. Sharona Franklin calls the gelatin sculptures in her video “bioshrines,” highlighting their dual roles as living organisms and sacred objects in her treatment of chronic illness and disability. Alison Kuo’s video engages sacrifice, sensuality, and aspiration contained in gelatin’s material and social histories. In addition to Franklin and Kuo, the exhibition features local artists Katherine Mitchell DiRico and Kelly Chen, and debuts a new work by Maisie Cousins. Each artist mobilizes Jell-O’s emotional and sensory potential to consider the sanctified social constructs of health, beauty, consumption, metamorphosis, performance, and ritual.

  • Lizbeth and George Krupp Gallery (Gallery 264)