What does food mean to you? Simply something to support your life? Instead of ordinary cooking, Julie Lee has found an interesting way to look at what we eat. Based in Los Angeles, Lee is a photographer who loves and appreciates food. Her food collage series seeks to highlight locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Lee tells us more about her ideas and inspirations.
What inspired you to play with food and create such beautiful pieces? Food is deeply personal for everyone and for me it’s a gesture of kindness, a storyteller, and a way to create community and share culture. I was raised by immigrant parents from Hong Kong in the agriculturally-dominated Central Valley of California. Despite its notorious reputation for high crime rates and economic depression, I developed a profound connection to the beauty it offered—the freshest fruits and vegetables, lush farmlands, acres of orchards, and lively ethnically-diverse population. Some of my favorite childhood memories are from having gardening competitions with my sisters, or picking cherries with my dad, or going to the local Asparagus Festival.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally beautiful, with their intricate shapes and vibrant colors. My food collages seek to capture that essence, while highlighting seasonal and local offerings from Los Angeles farmers markets. It’s evolved into an ongoing project in the study of plant design, exploration of color theory, and pure, unadulterated food-love.
I know that you get most of the goods from local farmers market, sometimes your garden and sometimes a neighbourhood forage. Why not a store? Is there any particular reason behind? In addition to celebrating the beauty of nature, I’m an advocate of eating locally and sustainably. By shopping at farmers markets, you’re getting the freshest, most delicious, and environmentally-responsible produce possible. Good for you and for Mother Earth.
I assume you like eating a lot. Will you eat those food after using them for making collages? I love to cook as much as I love to eat and you can’t beat a home cooked meal. Every collage I design is destined to be my next meal–luckily, it’s already all chopped up and ready to go. No food or effort goes to waste in Julie’s Kitchen.
Do you do other arts apart from food collages? For example, do you draw? In addition to creating food collages, you can find me cooking, concocting recipes, food styling, or behind the camera often chasing the last bits of natural light.
I always think that people who love to travel must have their own motto for life. After living in 8 places and travelling to over 20 countries, what’s yours? Challenge yourself. Keep an open mind. Stay humble. Respect your elders. See, experience, and taste as much of the world as possible. And, eat your vegetables!