‘Toys and food’: West Seattle photographer Christopher Boffoli opens exhibition

Story and event photos by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

“Toys and food — everybody gets that,” says longtime WSB contributor Christopher Boffoli of his photographic series featuring food and tiny human figurines. It’s making a splash worldwide and here at home, as an exhibition titled “Big Appetites” opened at a downtown gallery.

Christopher’s show at Winston Wachter Fine Art began with an artist reception last night. Inspired by media depictions of tiny people, from “Gulliver’s Travels” to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” he’s been playing with the imagery concept for the past few years, but it’s only in the past few months that their popularity has “exploded” — especially internationally, since a first wave of European interest last spring.

“The ‘tiny things’ fascination crosses cultures,” says Christopher. “There’s a God-like feeling that comes from playing with small toys. The size disparity draws people into a different world.” Christopher’s photos will soon be showing in galleries in London, Brazil, and Monaco.

Despite the international appeal, the theme of many of the images is all-American. The over-scale food items are meant to represent the over-consumption prevalent in American culture, and the figurines reflect the tradition of labor that built our society’s infrastructure. To convey the image’s message, each piece has a title and a caption. The title conveys the humor naturally expressed by the whimsical pairing of oversized food and tiny figures, while the caption reinforces and creates a story around the theme of the image.

The two photos Christopher is standing next to in the top photo in this story are his latest creations, including this one:

It shows a crawfish being wrangled by the tiny figures and is titled: “Exotic Pet.” Its caption reads: “Once again, ownership of an exotic pet was proving to be nothing but trouble.” The lower photo shows figures of workers seated on the top edges of upright rigatoni pasta noodles and is titled, “Pasta Pipefitters.” “They were the tightest clique in the factory,” the caption explains, “and Harvey was the equivalent of the most popular cheerleader.”

Many of the images result directly from West Seattle influences: A particularly appealing piece of produce from the West Seattle Farmers Market or a batch of colorful macaroons from Bakery Nouveau have given Christopher both the props and the ideas for some of the creations. All of the backgrounds are from Christopher’s home, and as much as possible, he uses available natural light to create the image’s atmosphere.

As for the figurines: “Most people ask about the figurines,” he says; those come from an undisclosed European source, arriving in their standing, crouched or seated positions. Christopher occasionally repaints them to fit the color scheme, but they are otherwise generally unchanged.

The hardest part about creating these compositions – besides not eating the macarons? “Spending hours getting everything set up, and while I’m working on the camera focus, a figure falls over.”

Christopher’s photographs will be showing at Winston Wachter (203 Dexter Avenue N.) through February 23 and are being sold through the Gallery. Note-card-sized reproductions are also available in packs of 10 here in West Seattle at Click! Design That Fits (WSB sponsor) or (in case you’re reading this from off-peninsula) at the Seattle Art Museum store downtown and at Velocity in South Lake Union.
P.S. If you can’t make it downtown to see the exhibition, keep an eye out for word of a West Seattle spotlight later this year.

17 Replies to "'Toys and food': West Seattle photographer Christopher Boffoli opens exhibition"

  • miws January 11, 2012 (10:18 am)

    Great pics and story! Thanks, Christopher, Keri, and WSB!


    (I had to place my hands up to the screen, framing the picture of Christopher, in order to recognize him! ;-) )



  • Kayleigh January 11, 2012 (10:29 am)

    Congrats, Christopher!

  • Diane January 11, 2012 (11:29 am)

    thanks for the great story and pics, since I couldn’t make it to opening; will go soon
    especially wonderful to finally see what Christopher looks like

  • Whitney R. January 11, 2012 (11:42 am)

    What is the point of posting a link to another artist doing parallel work to Buffoli’s? That seems passive aggressive and rude to me.

    I couldn’t make it to the show last night but I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  • wsgolfer January 11, 2012 (12:08 pm)

    Congrats, CJB! I’m glad someone in Seattle finally came around and is exhibiting your work! WIll keep an eye out for the West Seattle spotlight.

  • westseattledood January 11, 2012 (1:03 pm)

    I agree Whitney R. Small mind or jealous mind, it is hard to say which is at work in Tiny Dancer’s teeny-tiny head – thinking it clever to draw attention thusly to their own smallness, if you will.

    CJB – there is a wall in my kitchen reserved for one of your pieces. I am saving for it, but I just haven’t made up mind which photograph because you keep adding more to the series that are fabulous. Maybe two smaller sizes? Three?…

  • Stacey January 11, 2012 (1:29 pm)

    Hello – just a note that Winston Wachter is at 203 Dexter Ave N (not 200 as listed in the post)

  • enviromaven January 11, 2012 (2:05 pm)

    The negative comments re:Tiny Dancer’s post are interesting. Street Art Utopia is an established site with a lot of activity that represents a lot of different artists. Why assume that a reference to it could/would diminish CJB’s work in any way? Given the degree of access to information and ideas that the internet provides, the suggestion that somehow this reference is informed by a competitive, small minded, jealous, rude, or passive aggressive intent seems a tad provincial. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris’ show. There’s enough room in the world (if not West Seattle :) for everyone’s art.

  • owen January 11, 2012 (2:22 pm)

    I agree with enviromaven. I’m glad Tiny Dancer provided the link to Slinkachu’s work. I enjoyed Christopher’s work and appreciate the opportunity to see other similar works. Tiny Dancer said nothing about why they provided the link, so why assume negativity.

  • mookie January 11, 2012 (2:41 pm)

    it has been wonderful watching Christopher’s well-deserved success with this photographic series. The creativity, humor and talent comes together in such a thought-provoking way. Plus, they’re adorable. I look forward to sending some of those cards to friends, they will find them charming as well. Congrats CJB!

  • miws January 11, 2012 (4:01 pm)

    westseattledood, I just came up with an idea of another image for Christopher to set up and shoot pics of; the miniature people exploring “dood”! ;-)



  • westseattledood January 11, 2012 (4:33 pm)


    The Dood is delish, but not edible, my friend, and so not within the scope of cjb’s unique theme so wonderfully explored.

    And I think people will try to rain on others parades just because they can on the anonymous internet. Surely, TD can be more sensitive as to time and place and, more importantly to my sensibilities, a *way* to “discuss” art in such a context. That link sans edifying or thoughtful comment is suspect. TD’s intent is not at all clear. Don’t confuse provincial with polite. Very different.

    Anyway, jolly good show cjb! :)

  • miws January 11, 2012 (4:38 pm)

    Aw crap! I had a brain fart and forgot about the food aspect of the photography. Didn’t mean to insinuate that ‘dood was edible! ;-)



  • Diane Venti January 11, 2012 (7:19 pm)

    Couldn’t make it out last night to the opening but am planning on making it this weekend!
    Congrats to Christopher-such clever and interesting work!

  • SoTrue January 11, 2012 (8:48 pm)

    enviromaven, I know courtesy is hardly understood these days, but u just don’t get. The “Internet” didn’t post the link, so referring to it makes no sense.

    Maybe next time Tiny could provide a little context to her otherwise thoughtless and inappropriate post.

  • enviromaven January 12, 2012 (11:58 am)

    The issue in question is art as contextualized and mediated via the internet..otherwise, we wouldn’t be reading WSB. How people interpret that can vary widely. Tiny Dancer’s post provides one of many possible contexts for CJB’s work. Nothing more, nothing less. Art doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and there is no parade to rain on here…just a big world of ideas and information that may or may not resonate with the readers of this thread. Disclaimer: I don’t know TD, and this is not a paid political announcement :)

Sorry, comment time is over.