Friday, January 11, 2013

State steaks: Artist hopes her clay renditions will teach others about the American beef industry

Iowa looks like a flank steak
It's sometimes hard for consumers to visualize just how massive the beef industry truly is. Artist Sarah Hallacher hopes her latest project, "Beef Stakes," will inform people about the top four beef-producing states through a series of state-shaped clay steaks that bear stickers about beef production in each state. (Hallacher photo)

Hallacher scaled each steak's size to the total pounds of beef each state ships each year, them packaged them in Styrofoam and shrink wrap, "so they look just like those rib-eyes and tenderloins you grap from your grocery refrigerator," writes Michaeleen Doucleff of NPR. Nebraska is the biggest steak in the series because of the 7.2 billion pounds of ground beef it produced in 2011. Texas, which is the fourth-largest beef producer, is the smallest steak.

The modeling-clay steaks are very realistic. They even contain white clay swirls to imitate marbled fat and represent rivers. Hallacher said she thought about using real steak, but she couldn't stand the thought of wasting so much food, and she wanted people to be able to safely handle and examine the steaks. The primary goal of the project, Hallacher tells Doucleff, is education. She wants people to explore the data "behind America's beef industry through a hands-on, tactile experience."

Each state-steak's packaging is affixed with a a realistic-looking price label with the total pounds of beef produced annually in each state, the cost to produce that amount and how many pounds each resident of the state would have to consume to eat all that beef locally. Hallacher hopes to display "Beef Stakes" at a gallery soon. (Read more)

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