Nearly a year after making an international splash with his still-life photographs of miniature figurines interacting with normal-sized food, West Seattle photographer Christopher Boffoli is readying for his first local solo show. "Big Appetites" opens next Tuesday at Winston Wacher Fine Art.
"Some countries have gone gaga," Boffoli says of the 85 countries where his photographs of workmen among rigatoni, divers perched on a teacup's edge and boaters navigating puddles of milk have been displayed. Italian newspapers have enthusiastically reprinted his images, and galleries from England to Morocco report steady sales of his work.
Yet Seattle's reaction has been considerably more low-key, a discrepancy that mystifies Boffoli, a New England native who moved here seven years ago.
"It defies understanding," he says. "It's nice they're paying attention now."
Boffoli hadn't planned a career in fine arts when he decided to pay homage to the primitive perspective effects used in movies such as Innerspace and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids by juxtaposing tiny human models with food. "Everyone loves miniatures," says Boffoli, who previously considered himself a journalist.
"I thought this would kind of go away, but it's never-ending," Boffoli says of his newly-acquired fame. "Today I had calls from Brazil and China."
Other than the figurines, which Boffoli special orders, every element in his food photographs is edible. He positions the figurines with agave nectar.
"From the start, I wanted everything to be real," he says. That includes the lighting, which Boffoli says is especially kind to the fruits he finds at the West Seattle Farmers Market and pastries he buys from Bakery Noveau and Trophy Cupcakes.
"Food has beautiful colors and textures suited to natural light," he says.
The hardest part of composing photographs featuring food and figurines is getting miniatures to stand up straight, Boffoli says.
"They're not designed to be standing up on an orange," Boffoli says, referring to an image of a woman with a lawn mower apparently carving rows in an orange peel. "Zesty Mower" is on the front side of a postcard advertising Boffoli's upcoming Seattle show.
"It's become really popular, and it figures, because it was one of the easiest," Boffoli says. "I shot it really quickly. Other images I worked on for hours and people don't care."
Boffoli last summer exhausted himself creating 30 new images for Winston Wachter, but the gallery decided not to include any of them in the show.
"They won't go to waste," Boffoli says, adding galleries elsewhere have expressed interest. "Seattle maybe has other things to do and they'll get around to me when they're ready."