K2 – The Blog

The Meat Project, by Ashton Worthington

Posted in Agency News, Uncategorized, What's happening with the artists by K2Creative on November 20, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 6.47.36 PMMEAT.  When Ashton Worthington described his latest personal project, we were skeptical.  An entire series devoted to the subject?  Days upon days of traveling through the boroughs to shoot…butchers and dead carcasses?

We were dead wrong.  This latest (and in our opinion, greatest) of his art projects captures it all – from poignant imagery of butchers filled with pride to the most interesting and beautifully shot pig intestines I’ve seen.  The series spans cultures, generations and a controversial subject.  Love it or hate it, we present a small taste (pun intended) of The Meat Project.


Recently I was presented with an opportunity to design a food story for a special magazine edition devoted to New York. I landed on the concept of a study of butchers and meat across the city. This gave me a rare chance to unite the disparate sides of my work – portraits and still life – that I don’t get to exercise together very often. The people and the shops were all amazing, and the meat and tools have such rich textures and colors.

Every culture and ethnicity has a butcher, and I thought it would be really interesting to cover the whole range – from the Pakistani halal place to the Chinese live poultry place, to the Italian place, to the Jewish to the German to the Japanese to the hipster and on and on. When I started, I had no idea how rich, deep and fascinating this would be. What really struck me were the total craft and pride that butchers have in their work and their businesses. More often than not, these were multi-generation operations. One place has been around for 92 years and is currently run by the fourth generation – such a piece of neighborhood history. And what was really remarkable was just how much they love what they’re doing. To a person, every butcher I encountered was just simply happy.

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 7.10.00 PMGoing into this, as a personal journey, I expected to be disgusted and turned off to meat. I’ve been married to a vegetarian for almost 20 years, and as a consequence, I don’t cook much meat at home (I do most of the cooking, and most days I’m too just pooped to cook two dinners – four counting the particulars of what my two young children are willing to eat on any given day). So meat intimidates me – I just don’t have a lot of experience handling it – and being confronted by the carnality of it, I though I might come out the other side a veg too. But seeing the pride the butchers take in their work, seeing how they care about the quality of their product, and seeing the simplicity of the process – it’s an animal, and it gets cut into pieces, and then you buy it – totally changed that. Even the sausage factory, something you’d guess would be terrifying, was so simple and straightforward a process. This is so different from the industrial meat industry – they know where the animals come from, and they treat what they do as a craft. It really jolted my expectations and gave me a deep level of respect for them.
*Special thanks to Vanessa Varela for producing the shoot and for getting us access to some pretty challenging places.

the meat project, ashton worthington


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