Austin-based artist Jennifer Pate is proving that the phrase “food porn” is more than just an Instagram hashtag. In her gallery, Maridad Studio, Pate displays drawings and watercolor paintings of food and beverages in suggestive positions. Pate’s Instagram page is filled with images designed to make the viewer both horny and hungry.
Pate is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Art degree. Since 2016, she's been creating art sold under the name Maridad, a portmanteau of her middle name, Marie, and that of her Cuban grandmother, Caridad.
“I wanted a name that felt unique but also carried my family’s heritage, because they are the real reason I can be who I am today,” Pate says. “Maridad also translates to a marriage, in my case it is the melding of two ideas, figurative and food art. I wanted to create a platform where I could share my views on eating habits but also create fun, provocative and affordable art to the public.”
In an era when nearly every aspect of our lives, right down to what we eat for dinner, is shared on social media, Pate felt inspired by today’s internet culture to create her food porn collection. Her Instagram page is full of provocative food drawings, including a margarita on the rocks standing up with legs and fishnets, an assortment of plants and herbs wrapped in bondage, and a slice of bruschetta in a masturbatory position.
“Food instills such a visceral memory of life, and I’m inspired by the ways it connects people together,” Pate says. “As an avid figure drawer I was motivated to anthropomorphize these foods so they would represent sexuality, desire and indulgence with a touch of humor. It also allows me to be creative and free to explore my own identity and sexuality.”
Pate admits that while she personally doesn't feel a traditional sense of romantic attraction toward food, the way we feel about food can be somewhat romantic or sexual in nature.
“There are many different flavors and textures involved with food that can make us feel aroused, and tapping into our imaginations can open a lot of possibilities to explore,” Pate says. “I believe in the beauty and power behind an active imagination. It can help us find connections and understanding, and maybe even break down barriers we create to the world around us. I find it fun to imagine the naughtier foods which tease us into submission; sometimes we give in but sometimes they are just happy memories that make us strive for something more.”
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Since opening Maridad Studio and debuting her food porn collection, Pate has sold her works to various bars and restaurants around Austin. In the future, Pate would like to collaborate with a bar or restaurant to design a special menu or series of artworks based on their food and drink.
While she's proudly passionate about her art, Pate is open to criticism from artists and art beholders alike. She says that although it's important to be open to suggestion and inspiration, all of one’s works should be original.
“It's important to find inspiration from other artists to hone in on a specific craft, or to learn new methods and mediums of art, but at the end of the day your ideas and intentions should always be uniquely your own,” Pate says. “Some artists I speak to tell me that they don’t feel ready to promote or share their work for various reasons, but in my opinion there isn’t a better time than now.”