Wobbling, jewel-toned jelly has been a decorative centrepiece of western dessert trollies for centuries. Now artists are harnessing the moldable potential of this teatime staple. Jelloid sculptures and installations, infused with personal and political messages, are popping up in galleries and lingering long past their sell-by date.
At the helm of the jelly-as-art movement is the Canadian artist Sharona Franklin, who has her first solo show in New York’s King’s Leap gallery this spring. Franklin’s delicately coloured jellies presented on dainty serving dishes often feature flowers and herbs, a reference to her childhood growing up on the edge of the British Colombian wilderness.
“I’d go into the forest and find plants, like Canadian thistle or wild asparagus,” says Franklin, one of eight siblings. “We’d hunt rabbit and grouse, go fishing, look for clams. It was a do-it-yourself upbringing.” In her teens, Franklin moved to Vancouver for medical care. She works from home focusing on pieces that combine a childhood love of the outdoors with nuanced references to her disabilities. At first glance, her creations, filled with lichen or sprigs of baby’s breath, appear botanical, but by using gelatine, a bovine byproduct, Franklin makes a statement about today’s wellness culture and the animal-based drugs that she needs…
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