Repurposed: Street Culture Fan Tisha Cherry Treats Her Grocery Store Like The Art Supply Shop
To celebrate our exhibition Re:Purpose, Ordinary Objects Made Extraordinary, presented by Mtn Dew Black Label, we’re paying homage to creatives riffing, transforming, and remixing the everyday.
To see more fearless reinvention of the ordinary, click here.
Currently residing in West New York (which she jokes is “oddly enough, a place in New Jersey”), Tisha Cherry is a pun-filled food artist known for using the Oreo’s negative crème space to create miniature masterpieces.
Combining her love for cooking and distaste for wasting food, the 31-year-old #ArtintheEats originator assured me that she indulges in each and every one of her creations shortly after they’re whipped up. She also noted that her favorite part about the whole process is the fact that it’s disposable, delectable, and most of all, temporary.
“My culinary creations invite the audience to view ingredients differently and appreciate the magic of meal through preparation and cooking,” she says. “My inspiration often comes from the colors of the ingredients, along with textures and flavors: the bold hues of bright and fresh fruits and vegetables, the strikingly deep red skin of beets, and the fluorescent pink of the stalk on a Swiss chard.”
“I take daily trips to multiple grocery stores—which I refer to as my art supply stores,” Tisha says. “I get inspired walking through the aisles and produce sections. Color is my muse. It symbolizes, entices, comforts, excites and moves me.”
THERE’S LAYERS TO MY INSPIRATION
I always viewed cooking and meal preparation as an art form. My father owned a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, so I spent a lot of my childhood obsessively watching the staff put together these seemingly disparate ingredients and create something completely different and delicious. It only seemed natural to me that you can create art out of food because these chefs were creating art everyday.
In a way, the city has opened my brain to seek out odd pairings. It helps me open up to collaborations because often these pairings, though different, would complement each other in a way people wouldn’t even realize before. All of my art is an undercover love affair with food and what waves/trends are going on at the moment.
ALWAYS SCHEMING AKA BEING CREATIVE
My creative process is like my thought and life process: pretty scattered. I was diagnosed with ADHD (the hyperactive/impulsive type) in my early teen years. During a crucial stage in my life, I felt so different and not statistically intelligent since I had a “learning disability”. So structure or method to ANY process wasn’t/isn’t really my forte—it’s forever a work in progress! I just knew I had lots of energy, spontaneity, extreme passion, and really enjoyed the process of divergent thinking, which for many years I didn’t know meant being “creative”.
My brain is just ongoing wordplay. I often find myself chasing the perfect combination of food and punnery throughout the day just because it’s what I like to think about in my spare time. When I get that “aha!” moment and find the perfect mix of food, fun, and puns that dopamine release is almost unparalleled. I was hooked into challenging myself into bridging my two favorites together based on the ingredients I had at hand for my next meal.
I VIEW PROCRASTINATION AS PRO, NOT A CON
My secret to any “road block” is procrastination. Thanks to my ADHD, I often have different ideas rolling around constantly when I am supposed to be focusing on one thing. Scattered ideas and my attention easily drawn to everything else around me/all other stimuli frequently contributes to generating lots of random ideas. So if I can’t think of something, I get up and do something else—anything and probably everything—at the same time.
ART WASN’T EVEN MY THING
I have a Bachelors Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling & Human Services and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Boston University. I’ve spent years immersed in physical medicine and rehabilitation sciences and honestly I was just trying to study/pass. And during my spare time I would try to channel my hyperactivity by running/exercise, exploring outdoors, walking the city, cooking and traveling. Art/Drawing/Painting wasn’t even my thing. Still, food and art have both been passions of mine, which is why I’ve recently enrolled in some upcoming art/culinary classes.
MY DIFFICULTY ACCEPTING BEING CALLED AN “ARTIST”
Initially I had a tough time calling myself a food “artist.” I mean, I would literally use air quotes every time it was brought up in conversation because while I love what I do, to attach the word “artist” makes it way too serious.
When I was a child I remember thinking I wanted to help people. Being that my mother is a retired nurse and my father a restaurateur, art wasn’t really big in my family. I wasn’t exposed to that growing up. I even had a tough time describing myself as a creative person (I was a science nerd and still am!) until people started telling me how innovative I was. Nowadays, I just describe it as “playing with food.” It’s a lot more chill and relaxed than declaring that I’m an artist and having to deal with all of the preconceived notions attached to that word.
PALETTES AND PALATES
The main goal is appreciation in the mundane, the every day things (food). To me, food is this magical thing that deserves way more recognition than being a source of energy. There’s so much beauty and diversity in this thing we all need to survive, and this is my way of paying homage to that. I just want people to think outside the plate and think more in palettes rather than just palate. I also love to cook for hours, whether it’s for myself or others. It’s just therapeutic for me. I love making people happy with food. My ultimate goal is to share/spread my happiness with food.
Don’t worry about others. It’s so important to be in your own lane. Do what feels right to you. Who cares if someone else doesn’t get it? As long as it feels right to you and you get it, you really can do no wrong. Just focus on what makes you happy, tap into that passion that got you there and don’t be afraid to play around with it.
This is my “fun-time” job. As a full-time job, I’ve been working as a licensed registered Occupational Therapist. I’ve been doing outpatient rehab and inpatient acute care rehab for the better of seven years in the greater New Jersey area. I have been able to split my time to continue with food art since I sometimes have flexible hours/shifts. Also, I live about a mile from work so during my lunch break, I am able to run home and make some lunch/food art and shoot with natural light.
THE STRUGGLE IN THE JUGGLE
Remember to avoid tackling too much at the cost of your own wellbeing. There was a period where I’d drain myself juggling all these projects and became overwhelmed and stressed out. The struggle in the juggle is real! Your personal life becomes hectic, relationships begin to suffer, and then this thing that used to bring you joy and purpose ends up becoming something you secretly resent. I had a six-month stint where I did food art full-time and Occupational Therapy part-time but I kind of lost the fun/therapeutic feel to it.
I’d also say make sure to have fun with life. I hear so often that misery makes for the best art, but honestly, being happy and stable in life is way cooler than the whole starving artist thing. Immerse yourself into your art, but like, have a back up plan too (like health insurance and financial stability). It’s a lot of work but you almost have to be intentional about balancing your life.