The Presidential Ham showcases oil painting portraits of every U.S. president holding a ham. The forty-three portraits are composed of oil painted on panel, and are varnished, matted, and framed in 16in x 20in handmade wooden frames. The portraits serve to commemorate the personalities, historical narratives, and legacies of the presidents. Such a presidential tableau may spark a sense of curiosity and patriotism in even the most hardened of hearts..
The Presidential Ham was conceived in 2006, following a friend’s introduction to the concept of “larding” wherein one leaves a chunk of lard on an unsuspecting person’s porch for later discovery. Larding evolved into the act of leaving unusual items at an unsuspecting person’s home in order to surprise and astonish. In 2006, a huge portrait of Richard Nixon cradling a ham was completed and gifted to the friend. Following the completion of that painting, years were spent practicing painting techniques and researching the characters and physical characteristics of the presidents in preparation for undertaking the full project. A papier-mâchéd cornucopia obtained from a thrift store was used as a model for the hams which appear in the paintings. The portraits took six months to complete and were finished in June 2010.
The Presidential Ham has been featured in numerous publications including Paste Magazine, Salon.com, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, and many others. Weaseling its way into pop culture, the Presidential Ham was referenced in a scene from an episode of NBC’s show ‘30 Rock’ wherein Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks) is holding a ham. Additionally, educators have used the images as teaching tools in their classrooms to revive students’ interest in the American presidents.
Links to and information about other projects by BIJIJOO may be found at bijijoo.com.