Chewing on Chaos: Michael Flaherty’s Psychedelic Pandemic Sandwich Art

Image of art sandwich. Bushwick Bites. Chewing on Chaos: Michael Flaherty’s Psychedelic Pandemic Sandwich Art

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a tumultuous hand to the global community, with artists being no exception. As galleries shuttered and exhibitions were postponed, artists worldwide were thrust into uncharted territories. Amid this upheaval, New York-based artist Michael Flaherty has found an unusual, yet captivating muse – the humble sandwich, employing it as a visual metaphor in his psychedelic canvases and installations to examine our shared experience.

Michael Flaherty’s studio is an explosion of color. It houses thousands of markers, including bright Sharpies, discontinued highlighters, and dried-up illustration markers. These tools, combined with oil pastels and watercolors, are the lifeblood of his frenzied, vibrant works. A testament to his resourcefulness, even obsolete markers find new life in Flaherty’s hands, contributing to the creation of his kaleidoscopic pandemonium.

His pandemic-era creations are a riotous carnival of dark, clownish characters and impossible creatures. The bizarre menagerie represents the chaos of our collective reality, but the narrative focus of this psychedelic circus is the sandwich — an emblem of sustenance, comfort, and mundanity.

The sandwich in Flaherty’s work captures our universal pandemic experience. The stacked ingredients symbolize the layers of complexity and challenge we’ve encountered. The bread – often portrayed as bright, vibrant bookends to the chaos within – represents resilience, holding it all together. Through this motif, Flaherty brings forth the delicate blend of absurdity and order that permeates our everyday lives.

In the realm of culinary arts, food has been an age-old source of inspiration. It communicates our shared human experience, culture, and history. Flaherty’s focus on sandwiches extends this tradition, providing a relatable anchor amidst his chaotic creations. It serves as an exploration of how food, in its most basic form, has gained renewed importance during the pandemic — from bread-baking booms to the reliance on comfort food in unsettling times.

Amid the pandemic’s tumultuous backdrop, Flaherty’s work is a testament to the enduring spirit of creativity. Despite the chaos, his art persists, delivering viewers a surreal escapade with a bite of reality in every piece. His pandemic sandwich art explores the interplay between the ordinary and extraordinary, invoking a sense of familiarity within the frenzy, a comforting reminder of resilience amidst adversity.

Michael Flaherty’s pandemic sandwich art demonstrates how artists adapt to monumental shifts, creating from the chaos while underscoring the shared human experience. In the face of a crisis, it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a celebration of the power of art to reflect, critique, and connect. Through sandwiches, Flaherty has served up a psychedelic exploration of the pandemic experience, one bite at a time.

Author: Sarah Brown