When I asked artist Victoria Fu to make salad with me at the Getty Salad Garden, I didn’t expect her to come with her family in tow. A lovely surprise, and just the kind of thing I like to see happen in that space. Victoria brought along her husband, painter Matt Rich, and her mother, Stella Fu. This was a great excuse to spend time with her loved ones—and it soon became apparent that these three had collaborated around mealtime before. When the Fu–Rich clan get into the kitchen, Victoria herself often takes on the salad, comfortably combining distinct ingredients, layering flavors, and working towards an appealing composition.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and draw a parallel between this method of preparing food and the approach Victoria takes to her artistic media of choice—film and video installation. Her works are layered, from the variation in projected surfaces themselves to the way she pairs her own footage with stock or archival material. In the end, the works become an immersive whole that are familiar yet strange, and just seem to magically cohere in colorful harmony. If someone could describe just one of my salads that way, I would die a happy woman.
Julia Sherman: You guys seem to have assumed your own distinct and particular roles in the kitchen. How did that come to be?
Victoria Fu: Probably over time by taste and trial and error! We tend to have our own distinct visions of the meal, so one of us will sous-chef while the other runs the kitchen. Also, we’ve fallen into our strengths—Matt is great with meat and fish and I’ll deal with the veggies and legumes.
Julia: You said you are not much of a cook, but you do make a good salad. Is salad making not considered “cookery” in your mind?
Victoria: I love combining flavors, colors, and textures, which is totally “cookery.” But, there is a whole aspect to cooking that I tend to neglect that has to do with “cooking” by applying heat and other processes.
Julia: As an artist couple, you must influence one another’s work profoundly. Matt said he “brought color to Victoria’s world.” Do you have particular approach or guiding principles when it comes to color? Can you tell me a bit about your future collaboration?
Victoria: I think we have commonalities in our work that maybe aren’t readily apparent at first glance. We are both converging in sculpture from our respective corners of painting and video, so my guess is some meeting point that is object-based, abstract, and colorful!
Julia: You both teach at schools that are not specifically art schools. How does this affect the material you present to your students or your expectations, assuming the majority of your students are not preparing to navigate the commercial art world?
Victoria: For my part, the things I emphasize in teaching are ideally applicable to life: navigating with awareness and criticality the visual material around us, from movies to commercials to design. Sometimes students who are not aiming to become artists are more open to seeing and more apt to decode their environments.
Julia: What are you looking at, reading about, obsessed by inside or outside of the studio? What is your “salad”?
Victoria: Looking at and reading about contemporary art takes up a huge chunk of my free time. Within that, over the past year I’ve been very involved in a conversation with other artists and scholars about the influence of haptic touchscreens on artists’ film and video, which means I’m always on the lookout for texts and artists that are part of that, even inadvertently. Also, teaching a film class this semester has me watching movies again. I’m excited to see Todd Haynes’s Carol, Apitchatpong Weerasethakul’s new film Cemetery of Splendor, and probably a bunch of silly holiday movies.
Text of this post © J. Paul Getty Trust. All rights reserved.
About the Getty Salad Garden
The Getty Salad Garden is an installation of sustainably grown heirloom vegetables and salad greens, as well as a platform for engaging Los Angeles’ contemporary artistic community in a series of evolving conversations, programs and gatherings. Presented by artist and writer Julia Sherman, creator of the blog Salad For President, the Getty Salad Garden aims to synthesize a wide variety of creative voices as the fascinating history of art and food are explored in two exhibitions: The Edible Monument: The Art of Food for Festivals, and Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Food in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The Getty Salad Garden is a project of the J. Paul Getty Museum Education Department and is made possible by the generosity of Anawalt Lumber, Bragg Live Food Products and Kellogg Garden Products.