On view as a part of 2017 MFA THESIS EXHIBITIONS at

The Art Gallery at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
March 5 – April 7, 2017

Kelly Ciurej presents Artificial Sweetener, an installation of photographs

Artificial Sweetener is an exhibition that explores psychological “stickiness.” With this project I am exploring the misrepresentation of images as truth. The installation consists of approximately fifteen photographs at larger than life scale, in a combination of found family photographs, recipes, and staged performative studio photographs using sticky material such as sugars, food dyes, candies, pastries, processed foods, etc.

Artist’s Statement:
The Artificial Sweetener project first emerged in December of 2015 when I went back to my childhood home in Chicago and stumbled across many of my mother’s recipes as well as several boxes of family photographs, consisting of about thirty years of documentation of my family members’ lives. The conceptual basis of the work is an investigation of the ways in which photographs distort actual memories and instead create performed, invented realities. Artificial Sweetener examines specific relationships within the nuclear family and the incongruence between memory and photographic record. Using food materials, which are largely gluttonous—candies, pastries, and sugary treats—as subject I am exploring the stickiness of certain psychological spaces that are internalized from familial experiences. The substances I use are often heavy, sweet, sugar-based confections. They are artificial and/or “instant” ingredients, widely used in processed foods as well as within the household setting for baked goods. They express both excess and absence, as these particular substances are the epitome of “junk foods,” high in additives and artificial sweeteners, but providing no value to the human body, oftentimes even causing it palpable harm. This material serves as a stand in for an inescapable, smothering stickiness of the psychological and emotional spaces I am exploring.

more on Kelly Ciurej


Kelly Ciurej
Fat Tuesday, 2016
archival inkjet print

Kelly Ciurej
American Club, 1994, 2016
archival inkjet print