Mizin Shin: How Things Are Consumed

Steamed, boiled, baked, roasted, fried; the potato is a staple food across much of the world. Owing to its versatility and high yield, today it is the most important vegetable crop in the United States.

How Things Are Consumed, a new installation by printmaker Mizin Shin, takes one of the most loved uses of this starchy tuber—the French fry—as its subject. As the scent, glisten, and crackle of hot oil arouses, as the crisp shell gives way to a creamy interior, she wonders: how does the fry get here? Using various print techniques, Shin narrates the manifold processes that transform the humble spud into a delicious commodity.

And yet, while one might pay $2.98 for fries at a fast food joint, another could hand over a cool 8 for the same grease-kissed Solanum tuberosum at a more upscale restaurant. What makes the two piles of golden batons different? How is their economic value constructed? In this exhibition, Shin peels back the layers of production, distribution, preparation, and presentation that surround our experiences as consumers. You say fries, I say … frites?

About the artist

Born and raised in South Korea, Mizin Shin graduated from Hong-ik University with a BFA in Printmaking and received her MFA from the University at Buffalo. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Rochester. Shin’s work has been shown regionally and at institutions across the United States. She was awarded the 2017 Graduate Student Fellowship from the Southern Graphics Council International, as well as the juror’s award at 45th Annual National Exhibition of Works on Paper. She is a co-founder of Mirabo Press in Buffalo.