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A Photographer's Mini Food Fascination

"When I was young the cones were so big you could drive a car through them."
Christopher Boffoli
"When I was young the cones were so big you could drive a car through them."

Small stuff is having a big moment. There's skateboarding for your fingers, cupcake-size lasagna, and now we've discovered photography featuring food as a backdrop for miniature life. In a nutshell, that's the theme of Christopher Boffoli's Big Appetites series, on display at Seattle's Winston Wachter gallery through Dec. 21.

"If you consider how many museums are filled with ancient artifacts that are tiny representations of people and things ... you realize that we've been fascinated with miniatures for tens of thousands of years," Boffoli tells The Picture Show via email.

A family camps in a sugar cone forest; skiers take to the slopes of an ice cream sundae: Boffoli's photos seem to imagine the scenes that play out around our food when we aren't looking. But food itself also looms large in the images, which, according to Boffoli's website, represent "an American enthusiasm for excess, especially in the realm of food."

Boffoli describes his process as usually starting with the food. Then he dives into his collection of miniature props and figures to find a clever match. And once he's done, he'll often write a clever caption.

Boffoli tells The Picture Show that he was inspired by childhood films and TV shows — especially ones that showed tiny people in a normal sized world.

"One of the very first that made an impression was a recurring segment on Captain Kangaroo with these tiny people who lived in an animal cracker box behind the books on one of his bookshelves," Boffoli writes.

And he knows he's not alone in this niche genre. We featured a similar artist back in August, and an artist named Slinkachu has also gotten some recognition. Boffoli says he intended for his work to draw attention to a "cultural fascination with tiny things," and it's only natural that other artists would share that interest.

Boffoli is currently working on a book of these photos, which he expects to be released in fall 2013.

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Nicole Cohen is an education editor at NPR. Prior to joining the Education Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Arts Desk, where she produced and edited arts features and interviews for She was part of the team that created NPR's annual Book Concierge, a collection of the year's best books as chosen by NPR staff and critics. Her other arts features include This Is Color and the podcast recommendation site She also coordinated the Web presence for Fresh Air.
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