Artist Recreates Groceries from her Youth with Polymer Clay Sculptures

Stephanie H. Shih, a self-taught, full-time artist based in Brooklyn, New York, creates ceramic groceries. Her project started back in 2018 when she began the process of recreating the Chinatown grocery stores of her youth.

“Through the lens of the Asian American pantry, my ceramic sculptures explore how shared nostalgia can connect a diaspora across geography, heritage, and class,” the artist wrote on her website. She then added that in the last three years she has folded over 1,500 porcelain dumplings and sculpted a kitchen’s worth of instant noodles, soy sauce, spam, and 50-pound bags of rice.

If you have a peek at her creations, you’ll notice how the labels she bases off of iconic products are made with so much precision and accuracy. All of her sculptures are made of polymer clay and later painted with acrylic paint.

“At this point, my art practice is as much about research and community-building as it is about sculpting and painting. I can spend hours researching the era-appropriate packaging for a given grocery, and I love crowd-sourcing shared nostalgia from the Asian-American diaspora,” she said in an interview for Ballpit.

If you want to see with what precision she makes her sculptures, keep scrolling! Don’t forget to follow her on Instagram for more amazing artwork.