Lora Durr

Lunch Art: The "What's For Lunch?" Exhibit

Melissa’s lunch, age 38, Social Worker, Nonprofit Management

Melissa’s lunch, age 38, Social Worker, Nonprofit Management

“I just read this great article on an art exhibit that’s all about lunch. You’ll love it.” My friend Elaine wasn’t kidding. When the pages of the Edible Jersey article arrived in my mailbox, I knew I had to talk with artist Lora Durr about her show this past spring at Trenton’s Artworks gallery.

She understands lunch. (In fact, I think we must be sisters separated at birth.)

LD had taught art to middle school kids whose lives are a lot different than hers. When she asked herself what might express her student’s opportunities, or choices, or challenges, she wondered, “How about whatever ends up on the table that’s called ‘lunch’?” As she painted, she was right that what they were eating revealed something that the posed, perfect-looking objects in other kinds of art didn’t.

Free School Lunch in Hamilton, NJ

Free School Lunch in Hamilton, NJ

LD expanded this project, inviting any willing lunch-eater to submit a photo, and this brought images of everything from meals eaten at desks to soup kitchens to car dashboards. She transformed these honest photos into a remarkable collection of (12x16”—placemat-sized!) paintings featuring take-out food, cafeteria lunches, and what I think are Twizzlers waiting to be eaten by a PhD student.

To me, the way we eat says so much about WHO we are, WHAT we value, HOW we live. WHERE we eat our lunch also says a great deal about the life that each person lives.
— Lora Marie Durr
Rob, 42, Paving and Concrete Contractor

Rob, 42, Paving and Concrete Contractor

It’s not just shining a spotlight on the significance of lunch itself that makes LD a Box Lunch Lifestyle Champion. She’s seen for herself what can happen when you choose to act in a way that makes you the person you want to be. While LD had been pretty attentive to navigating her relationship with food, about six years ago she realized that the effort and success of being a great teacher meant she’d drifted from being a practicing artist. So, she started painted again. Every day. Taking seriously what she wanted for herself brought us this gift of her amazing art, and, just as importantly, brought her the end-of-the-day satisfaction that comes from knowing she was building the kind of life she wants and deserves.

(She and I are DEFINITELY sisters.)

Do you wonder what LD would see in YOUR lunch? There’s only one way to find out.