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What's in Store: An uncommon look at a most common experience - grocery shopping
Hillary Carlip, Pammy, 2008 (printed 2012). From the book À La Cart: The Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers (Virgin Books, 2008).C-print on paper, 26 x 26 in. Courtesy of the artist and photographer Barbara Green.
SCOTTSDALE, AZ.- We typically don’t think much about the routine ritual of grocery shopping as we push our carts down the aisles or fill our baskets with the next item on the list. But in and among the stocked shelves, one can find beauty, humor, politics and stories ripe for creative curiosity.

The insights of 16 artists are on display at The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in an exhibition called Stocked: Contemporary Art from the Grocery Aisles.

The show offers a close look at one of the most universal experiences, a task that we take for granted. Almost everyone shops for groceries. But we rarely, if at all, stop to examine the vast range of social issues that surround us when we shop.

Stocked runs until September 1. The contemporary artists included in Stocked use the grocery store and its multitude of products as subjects to examine our relationship with food production, distribution, marketing, and consumption.

Included among the Stocked artists are famed international artists Damien Hirst, Christian Jankowski, and Lucy + Jorge Orta, as well as familiar faces from the Valley—Phoenix’s Jody Gnant and recent Scottsdale arrival Matt Magee. Followers of SMoCA’s Lit Lounge will also recognize the Los Angeles-based performer Hillary Carlip.

Stocked curator, SMoCA’s Emily Stamey, notes that “Each of the artists prompts us to consider the common task of grocery shopping in a new light—to consider the beauty in ordinary packaging, the surreal qualities of some of the spaces in which we buy our food, and how extraordinary it is that we can buy summer fruits in December and winter vegetables in July.”

For many, shopping for groceries is merely a standard chore; yet for or others it is a daunting task undertaken with too few dollars and too many mouths to feed; and for some, it’s an enjoyable adventure to sleuth out ingredients and new flavors. Taking such ordinary items as milk bottles, candy wrappers, produce stickers, and stray shopping carts as their subjects, the artworks in Stocked touch on the complexities of all these perspectives.

After visiting the exhibition, you may never view your own shopping routine the same way again.

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