March 10 2014

The Art of Vegetables: A Q&A with Artist Sarah Fairchild

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Photo courtesy of Sarah Fairchild Photo courtesy of Sarah Fairchild

Sarah Fairchild's paintings capture the detail and allure of vegetables in an uncommon way. An Ohio native, Sarah came by painting vegetables honestly—she spent her childhood in the garden, growing and canning food with her mother and grandmother. Yet her technique brings common staples like corn and cauliflower to life with one of the most joyful and unexpected colors—fluorescent pink. Standing in front of one Sarah's works, I'm swallowed up by the brightness of cabbages and how they call to me from the wall like sunlight through an open door. And that made me want to interview her to find out why vegetables, farming and art are so meaningful to her. —CL

Q: What inspired you to start painting vegetables?

A: I grew up following my mother and grandmother through vegetable and flower gardens. It was a true "farm to table" experience. I helped them pull weeds, plant seeds, harvest as well as can and freeze vegetables for the winter. As an adult, I rediscovered my love for plants by noticing the amazing produce at farmers market, walking through my neighborhood alleys and visiting community gardens. I found the vegetables beautiful, alluring and more interesting than the flowers. I knew I wanted to explore these forms in my painting.


Q: You talk about having relationships with the farmers who grow the food you photograph and paint. How do you cultivate those relationships and what do those relationships look like?

A: I am a regular at the North Market and its farmers market. Many of the farmers have been selling their produce there for years. When you are buying directly from the farmers, you get to know who is farming "organically" verses "naturally." I started talking with the farmers whose produce I loved and over the years, developed connections.

Q: What places and farms do you frequent the most for your subject matter?

A: I have four favorite locations. My favorite community gardens are the Wallace Community Garden in Grandview and the Franklin Park Conservatory Community Garden. I also frequent several small farms. My two favorite farms are Toad Hill Farm in Danville, Ohio and Rock Dove Farm near West Jefferson, Ohio. I am so appreciative that they let me tromp through their fields.

Q: Why are sustainable food sources so important to you? What's your biggest concern for sustainable food?

A: I believe all people should have the ability to eat food that is safe, affordable and chemical-free. Using pesticides to limit insect destruction is irresponsible and not in the best interest of the planet. Creating GMOs (genetically modified organisms) as a substitute for organic vegetation is not a healthy alternative. Mother Nature created it, who are we to alter it? I enjoy highlighting the bug-eaten leaves in my work. I believe in aiming for perfection and striving to be my very best, however, nothing in life is "perfect." I value the wabi-sabi elements of life.

Fairchild Image3


Q: What is the relationship between art and food for you?

A: They should both be sensual and enjoyable experiences.

Q: Do you have a favorite vegetable and if so, what's one of your favorite recipes for it?

A: My favorite vegetable is arugula; the flavors are bright, peppery and spicy. I have an arugula salad every day for lunch. I usually dress the salad with fresh lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and top with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Simple and easy.

If you ask me what I like to paint the most, I would have to say Brussels sprouts. The plant looks otherworldly and often quite figurative.


Sarah's show, "LUSH: New Works by Sarah Fairchild," is on display at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Bexley until March 12, 2014. Visit their website for more information. And learn more about Sarah and her work at

Read 907 times Last modified on March 10 2014



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