1,659. That is the number of people who were applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits each day in the state of Massachusetts. During the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many families struggled with food insecurities as they found themselves in a position where they were not making as much income. Therefore, Rahul Bhargava, assistant professor of Art + Design and Journalism and co-director of the Co-Lab for Data Impact, in partnership with The Connection Lab— headed by his wife Emily Bhargava— have created a sculpture that symbolizes those struggling families.
1,659 is a sculpture created from cutlery representing the same number. The sculpture is shaped to look like a table, much like the one that a family would sit at to share dinner. It was created to raise awareness on the impact the pandemic has had on people’s lives, as well as guide people to where they can find relief during these trying times. On their website, they direct people to where they can apply for SNAP benefits as well as list sites and organizations where families can find food resources.
1,659 is on traveling display and is currently at Northeastern University at the Curry Student Center Sculpture Garden until September 9, 2021. There will be an event on September 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT being hosted in collaboration with the students from a summer Food Justice class. During the event, everyone will work to create a collaborative art piece and collect food while talking about the sculpture and food security on campus.
Read this article by the Wicked Local to learn more about the motivations and behind-the-scenes work put into creating this piece of art.