Stephanie Gibbs – Family Style


© 2017
edition of 50
dimensions in inches: 5.5 x 4.5 x .75


About this piece:

In the summer of 2016, my sister sent me a text message. “Would you like our grandmother’s recipes?” “Of course!” I replied. “OK, but you should know that the recipe for bread sticks begins “1 package hot dog buns.” I was both fascinated and terrified.

As domestic cooking becomes more and more professional, and personal recipe collections are held online rather than in boxes or in notebooks, it is reassuring to look back through the physical remnants of cookery and the exchange of favorite recipes, when the moment of sharing a recipe with a friend was perhaps more important than the finesse of preparation. These recipes tell both the story of an immigrant family learning to cook “American style,” and the shared social tradition of food.

My grandmother was born into a Greek family in 1921, and, as with many Greek families,mealtimes took place at the family diner. Family meals were an occasion more social than culinary; my memories of childhood Thanksgivings were of burnt pie and soggy vegetables. Yet, when the recipes arrived, unsorted, in a manilla envelope, I was charmed.

These recipes were shared at bridge groups, in libraries, while volunteering, written onto whatever piece of paper was available. The tidy handwriting unifies the eclectic mix of papers, letterhead, receipts, and to-do lists. These 86 recipe cards were collected, compiled, edited, and expanded upon throughout the life of Helen Marchese, primarily from the late 1940s through the 1980s.


fabric, paper,  digital inks

About the artist:

Stephanie Gibbs is fascinated by the ways that books simultaneously convey both factual information and emotional responses: the tactile experience of reading triggers memories and forms connections between the past and future, as hands flip pages forward and back. For the past fifteen years, she has worked as a fine bookbinder and professional conservator in private practice, following training at West Dean College (MA, 2003) and undergraduate study in English literature.

About Alicia Bailey