35x35 | Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Sara Serratos at 35×35

Depending on when you visit Artists of Utah’s 35×35 exhibition and view Sara Serratos’ “Niches for Fruits and Vegetables,” the produce that makes up much of the work may be fresh and bright or rapidly approaching decay.

This installation is part of a series of recent works the Salt Lake City artist has created to examine fruits and vegetables not merely as products (as suggested by the word “produce”), but also sources of nourishment and powerful symbols representing everything from religious practice to exploitation and social injustice.

“Niches for Fruits and Vegetables” is an intricate and evocative installation that serves as a poignant commentary on the layered meanings of fruits and vegetables within various cultural, economic, and spiritual contexts. At first glance, the viewer encounters a cluster of wooden structures resembling houses, nestled atop a bed of lush green banana leaves. The choice of material and form here is deliberate, inviting an examination of the dichotomy between the natural and the man-made, between the organic and the constructed.

The use of banana leaves is particularly telling, as they are a staple in various cuisines and serve multiple purposes in culinary practices, especially within Mexican culture. By bringing these elements into a gallery space, Serratos, who was born and raised in Mexico, elevates the leaves from their utilitarian function to a symbol of nourishment and cultural identity. The houses, crafted with a rustic aesthetic and inspired by the cenotaphs of Mexican popular culture, suggest a human presence and perhaps even a sense of community or settlement. This could be interpreted as a nod to the agricultural communities that cultivate and harvest such produce, often facing exploitation and injustice.

Serratos’ work does more than just present an object for aesthetic contemplation; it is an invitation to reflect on the complex histories of produce, the labor behind its cultivation, and the sacredness imbued in these elements by pre-Columbian cultures. The spiritual significance of fruits and vegetables in these ancient societies often goes unrecognized in contemporary mass production narratives. By juxtaposing the spiritual with the commercial, the artist’s personal connection with these ‘perfect entities despite irregularities’ becomes a profound statement on finding divinity in imperfection and recognizing the holiness in the everyday.

Originally from Cuautitlán, Mexico, Serratos did her undergraduate work in Mexico before earning an MFA in Photography and Digital Imagine from the University of Utah.



Artists of Utah’s 35×35, Finch Lane Gallery, Salt Lake City, through Feb. 23

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