Lori Larusso’s ‘Pizza is a Vegetable’

Last November, Congress voted for a bill that allowed two tablespoons of processed tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable. The decision not only flew in the face of common sense, it also undermined efforts to create more nutritious school lunches, a move that could reduce childhood obesity and future healthcare costs.

Lori Larusso’s installation Pizza is a Vegetable is the newest in our ongoing Art = Food installation series comprised of site-specific works created for Cafe Muse. With her work, Larusso calls into question the various forces that contribute to a modern food culture that would allow pizza to be designated a vegetable, one that leans toward hypercapitalist interests and focuses less on our common health. Utilizing food imagery that calls to mind Michael Pollan’s concept of “pastoral fantasy,” Larusso points out the contradictions and complexities embedded in our food culture and illustrates how our expectation of fresh and healthy food is often exploited—primarily through advertising—to benefit the gargantuan food industry.

Lori Larusso currently holds the James Rosenquist Artist Residency at North Dakota State University. She was born in Massillon, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and a minor in Women’s Studies. She earned an Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s graduate interdisciplinary program, the Mount Royal School of Art. Lori has worked in the community as an advocate and has also maintained a solid studio practice, continuing to show her artworks regionally, nationally and internationally.

Pizza is a Vegetable will hang in Cafe Muse through May.