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Culinary Palettes:
Heritage as food in postrevolutionary mexican art

Lesley A. Wolff
niversity of texas Press, forthcoming 2025


This book asks how and to what ends the visual arts intersected with foodways in the volatile period of Mexican postrevolutionary reconstruction (1920-1960), and how art and food together shaped urban social life in terms of race, class, and gender. The book sets forth an interdisciplinary methodology rooted in the intersections of art history, visual culture, and food studies, which brings previously underrepresented artists and sites to the foreground of visual and material Mexican culture. I center the book on three main case studies that each highlight one artist/artwork and one foodstuff—Tina Modotti and the fermented indigenous beverage pulque; Carlos González and the national dish mole poblano; and Rufino Tamayo and watermelon, Mexico’s adoptive national fruit. By engaging a wide array of visual evidence, including paintings, architecture, vintage postcards, menus, and cookbooks, I demonstrate how these artists positioned their work within a broad visual landscape that relied upon the symbolic, material, and performative power of Mexican foodways in the urban and national imagination. 

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Nourish and Resist:
Food and Feminisms in contemporary global Caribbean art
Edited by Hannah Ryan and Lesley A. Wolff
Yale University Press, 2024
available via A&AePortal

A revelatory exploration of the food, feminisms, and visual culture of the global Caribbean.

Food is more than what we eat; it nourishes us. For women of the global Caribbean, the evocation of food makes visible histories and ideas that remain obscured: domestic labor, community and care, generational knowledge, cultural memory, artistic expression, and acts of resistance. In this interdisciplinary and comparative volume, scholars and artists engage with foodways through decolonial and intersectional feminist lenses, addressing the resonance of these themes in contemporary art. As such, they represent new scholarly and creative interventions on Caribbean and Caribbean-diasporic contemporary art in a global context.


This anthology harnesses the potential of food to create, negotiate, and analyze the visual languages emergent from a region grappling with political occupation, tourism, and ecological crises. Contributors lend a vital perspective into feminisms, the global Caribbean, tropical visuality, cookery, and consumption and feature discussions of such artists as María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Renluka Maharaj, Joiri Minaya, Victoria Ravelo, and Tania Bruguera.


Select essays

Wolff, Lesley A. 2022. "Still Eating: The Sheet Cake Paintings of Patrick Martinez.Asian American x Latinx Digital Studies (AAxL Forum — Urban Palimpsest: The Art of Patrick Martinez), edited by Robb Hernández. Online.  

Wolff, Lesley A. 2022. "Coloniality on a Virtual Plate: Contemporary Mexican Foodways as (Counter)Visual Sovereignty.Gender & History 34, no. 3 (Special Issue on Food and Sovereignty): 590-613.  

Wolff, Lesley A. 2022. Review of A Revolution in Movement: Dancers, Painters, and the Image of Modern MexicoLatin American and Latinx 

Visual Culture 4, no. 1: 152-154. Book review. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2021. "Café Culture as Decolonial Feminist Praxis: Scherezade García's Blame...Coffee.Humanities 10, no. 1 (Special Issue on Gender, Race, and Material Culture): 1-19.  

Carrasco, Michael D., Lesley A. Wolff, and Paul Niell. 2020. “Curating the Caribbean: Unsettling the Boundaries of Art and Artefact.” International Journal of Heritage Studies: 1-17.  

Wolff, Lesley A. 2020. “Mister Watermelon/Señor Sandía: Fruitful Anxieties in Rufino Tamayo's Naturaleza muerta (1954).” Vistas: Critical Approaches to Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art (Super/Natural: Excess, Ecologies, and Art in the Americas) 4: 29-44.  

Wolff, Lesley A. 2019. “Visualizing the Plate: Reading Modernist Mexican Cuisine Through Colonial Botany.” The Recipes Project. Website. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2019. “From Raw to Refined: Edouard Duval-Carrié’s Sugar Conventions (2013).” African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal 12, no. 3 (Special Issue on Creolization and Trans Atlantic Blackness: The Visual and Material Cultures of Slavery): 355-374. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2019. "A Chronology of the Life and Art of Ralph Norton (1875-1953)." In Ralph Norton and His Museum, by Ellen E. Roberts with contributions by Lesley A. Wolff, 208-242. West Palm Beach, FL: Norton Museum of Art. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2018. “Visualizing Mole Poblano as Heritage Process in Café de Tacuba.” Food, Culture & Society 21, no .5 (Special Issue, Mole Poblano: New Approaches to Mexico's National Dish): 618-636. 

Wolff, Lesley A., Michael D. Carrasco and Paul B. Niell. 2018. “Rituals of Refinement: Edouard Duval-Carrié's Historical Pursuits.” In Decolonizing Refinement: Contemporary Pursuits in the Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié. Exhibition catalogue. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press in association with University Press of Florida, 12 - 25. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2018. “It's All Happening in the Margins: An Interview with Edouard Duval-Carrié." In Decolonizing Refinement: Contemporary Pursuits in the Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié. Exhibition catalogue. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press in association with University Press of Florida, 56 - 61. 

Wolff, Lesley A. 2016. “Nursing the Nation: Postrevolutionary Mexican Consciousness and Consumption in Tina Modotti’s Baby Nursing.” Athanor XXXIV. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 85-92.                                            

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