Artist makes paint pigment out of food in BBAC exhibition

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 2, 2024

 “A Kitchen In Demopolis,”  by Roscoe Hall II,  is featured in the BBAC exhibition.

“A Kitchen In Demopolis,” by Roscoe Hall II, is featured in the BBAC exhibition.

Photos by Roscoe Hall II provided by the BBAC


BIRMINGHAM — Until April 18, the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, 1516 S. Cranbrook Road in Birmingham, will show an exhibition with the work of Roscoe Hall II titled, “Eidetic Recipes.”

Annie VanGelderen, the BBAC’s president and CEO, said she discovered Hall while watching him compete on season 18 of “Top Chef.” She connected with him through social media, leading to this exhibition three years later.

Hall is a multimedia artist based in Birmingham, Alabama, not to be confused with the Michigan city where the BBAC is located.

As an accomplished chef and artist, he finds an intersection between art and cooking through his work.

For instance, he uses a gram scale to measure out paints so he can track how to get a particular color again. He also uses dehydrated food to create unique paint pigments that describe the region the piece is depicting. He said that for this particular collection, sweet potatoes were useful ingredients in his paint pigments. He also uses materials such as a burlap sack from Alabama peanuts in his work.

The theme of this collection of work is “the Black Belt region.”

“I wanted to capture my contemporaries throughout the southeast to tell a story of what the Black Belt states look like,” Hall said.

One of his pieces is titled “Trinity.” In it, he depicts his friend Mashama Bailey, the first Black woman to win the “Outstanding Chef” James Beard Foundation Award. Among her many accomplishments in the culinary industry,  Bailey is the executive chef and partner of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia.

Inspired by the regional produce of Savannah, Hall used turmeric and hibiscus to make an oil pigment.

Bailey is known for her foie gras and grits recipe, which includes a Creole sauce that Hall said is his favorite part of the dish. In his piece, “Trinity,” Hall includes the ingredients of the Creole sauce alongside the painting of Bailey.

“It’s such a powerful piece that she just deserves to have a wall all by herself,” VanGelderen said.

VanGelderen said she is excited to potentially introduce the local area to an out-of-state artist. She said that while his work is unique to where he is from, it has a universal message.

“It’s very thoughtful, and there are definitely lots of layers that are incorporated in the paintings that have much deeper meanings,” VanGelderen said.

To see Hall’s work in person, visit the BBAC before April 18. More information on the exhibition can be found at