Maker Stories

Kendyll Hillegas’ Food for Thought

March 31, 2015

In the grip of the snowiest winter on record for the Boston area, Kendyll Hillegas was illustrating a pink, soft serve ice cream cone in her Quincy, MA studio.

Kendyll Hillegas | UncommonGoods

As an exercise of pure optimism, her subject makes sense: summer is just around the corner, despite the brutal, lingering winter endured by much of the country. But the singular delight of a popsicle in any season is just one of Kendyll’s creative obsessions. She lavishes equal aesthetic appreciation on herbs, fruits and vegetables, and baked goods—especially pie.

The Last Slice | Kendyll Hillegas

Much of her work celebrates the multi-sensory experience of food, from the simple comfort of golden, buttered toast to the elaborate artificiality of multicolored candy machines. Each of these portrait-like images is an exploration of subtle color and texture, but through these details also conveys a sense of taste, aroma, and even memory. For example, commenting on “Ice Pops,” one of her exclusive pieces for UncommonGoods, Kendyll invokes a time and place much warmer than snowbound Boston:

“I was inspired by childhood memories of warm afternoons spent playing in the sprinklers. After getting thoroughly wet, we’d sit in the sun in our swimsuits, drying off and eating ice pops. Growing up in Southern California, many childhood food memories have frozen treats in them…this is definitely a favorite.”

Ice Pops by Kendyll Hillegas | UncommonGoods
Ice Pops | UncommonGoods

Like many artists, Kendyll strives for a more universal connection through her work, one that transcends her personal associations and speaks to something in others’ experience. When asked how she hopes people react when they receive her work, she invokes that universal connection:

“My hope is that the work that I make—while inspired and informed by my own narrative—would connect people with particular memories, moments and feelings of their own. Whether it’s nostalgia, wistfulness, laughter, or longing, it never ceases to amaze me how varied and powerful people’s responses can be to images of food.”

Kendyll's materials

It may not be a revelation that food brings people together, but Kendyll’s dedication to it goes beyond familiar foodie clichés. Take her love affair with pie: it began at 15, when she and a friend tested the “5 second rule” by eating the last remaining slice of pumpkin pie that had tragically fallen on the kitchen floor. The incident elevated pie to a symbol of friendship, silly spontaneity, and determination for the artist, who has been on an epic quest to make the perfect pie ever since—whether through colored pencil and gouache, or through flaky crust and sweet filling.

The Last Slice | Pie Painting by Kendyll Hillegas | UncommonGoods

Going forward, Kendyll says she’s interested in creating images of people eating together and sharing meals, in addition to continuing her studies of food itself as a subject. Her aspiration is to stay connected with her growing portfolio of food work while simultaneously remaining open to approaching new subjects and trying new techniques.

See Kendy'll Collection!

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  • Reply Elaine April 2, 2015 at 7:09 am

    I love Kendyll’s art. I enjoy the way she uses color and textures – her designs come “alive” to me and i can see myself serving them at my table with family and friends. I can “have my cake and eat it too!”

  • Reply Better Than Brunch: Creative Mother's Day Gift Ideas | UncommonGoods April 26, 2015 at 7:29 pm

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  • Reply Judy Mazo May 24, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    These are beautiful. Are they prints? Glicee? what is the medium?

  • Reply Joy Hillegas Johnson May 25, 2015 at 5:08 am

    I am fascinated by these unique pictures and they bring back memories of a long ago childhood. Remembering summers and the special treats that our family enjoyed. Doing some research on my Hillegas ancestry and delighted to find another “Hillegas”.

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