Not by bread alone

Author: Kerry Temple ’74

You probably came here looking for an explanation of the artwork on the cover. It’s by Klaus Enrique. It’s one in a series of his sculptures/photographs, reminiscent of the work of painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo five centuries ago.

Born in 1975, Enrique grew up in Mexico City, studied genetics at the University of Nottingham in England and received an MBA from Columbia University. After working as an IT consultant, he studied photography at the Parsons New School of Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

He was creating a still-life photograph in which a human eye was peering from among dried leaves when “one of the leaves happened to be aligned,” he recalls, so “it looked like the nose that belonged to that eye.” That night he wrote in his notepad: “Make face with dried leaves.”

It was later, researching similar techniques, that Enrique discovered the work of Arcimboldo and not only replicated some of the pieces of the 16th century Italian painter but also began creating dazzling images from his own imagination. It’s a combination, he says, of anthropomorphism (assigning human characteristics to living or nonliving things) and pareidolia (perceiving patterns where they don’t exist). Thus “simple organic objects come together to create something more meaningful than the sum of its parts.”

We thought Enrique’s portrait would make a playful, engaging, creatively cool image to introduce stories about the campus food culture — something fresh and different, like the subject itself.

Of course, we, too, see the incongruity in having a whimsical image pointing to the campus culinary scene as the face of an issue whose feature articles thoughtfully and thoroughly examine poverty, inequality, injustice and the future of the human race — even though this issue’s more serious stories are not laments but compelling prescriptions for hope. We’re all aware of the discrepancies between the haves and the hungry.

We went lighter on the cover for several reasons. One is that we thought those weightier topics — immigration, international development, global health, Catholicism and encounters with cancer — difficult to illustrate with fresh appeal. We also realized — although these subjects are of profound importance and the stories well worthy of your close reading — that the topics may not entice as cover attractions. And we always want readers eager to dive into our pages.

Besides, there’s so much more to food than the food itself. It’s about lifestyle choices and nourishment, sharing and sacrifice, pleasure and delight, the sociology and ritual of meal time, and all the ways food brings us together, keeps us going, nurtures body and soul.

The truth is, we live on many levels, and we’re all better off accepting that gravity and humor, the serious and the light are inevitably spliced together in this world. This magazine — every edition — is a reminder of that. So you’ll find on these pages deliberations of pressing importance, about the poor and marginalized, about life, death and the global good, alongside stories about food and dogs, vacuum sweepers and the kindergartener who won his class napping championship.

And all of it provides food for thought.

Kerry Temple is editor of this magazine.