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Kernal of Truth Portrays Corn as Art

Yvonne Escalante

Photo by Barbara Boissevain

Yvonne Escalante has spent a lot of time with corn. Her grandfather was an Iowa corn farmer, and some of her best childhood memories are of summertime meals. But the food that was once so highly revered in Aztec and Mayan cultures that gods were created in its honor has different implications today. As the basis of most processed foods, corn is a source of obesity and other health issues.

Fueled by negative feelings about the soiled icon, Escalante, 34, wondered “whether I could still cherish my favorite summertime treat.” The question spurred an investigation that would become the basis of her master of fine arts thesis at San Jose State University. Kernel of Truth portrays the once-sacred cob as a weapon of attack, with dried native corn encased in polished resin and a glossy brass bullet-like shell.

The piece, most recently in a group show at Root Division, won her an award at the de Young Museum’s “New Generations Student Showcase” this past April and will be on view next month in “Maize y Más: From Mother to Monster?” at San Jose’s MACLA (Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana). 

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