For the last two years Nina Talbot has been photographing people at her local ShopRite in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, and painting their portraits. Or, more accurately, she’s been painting portraits of the store.
"I look for subjects that are close to home," she says. "Whenever I shop I take my camera. I tell them I’m a painter and that I am doing a series of paintings in which I included people who are shopping, and as if it’s all right if I take their photograph. Some of the people are a little suspicious that it’s going to be published in a magaazine or something, but when I assure them it is for my own personal artwork, they relax. The Shoprite is this huge store in which you have a real diversity of people shopping, and the store caters to that. In addition to signs that identify the different types of foods, they have signs that read: Russian Food, Indian Food, Mexican Food. Almost every ethnic type of food that is produced in this country you will find in that store. "
Asked how the subjects felt about their image being commited to canvas, Talbot says, "If anything they were confused, curious. Sometime, if they were reluctant, I would say things like, ‘I only choose the best looking people for this project.’ And that would butter them up. But I don’t think I came across anybody who actually turned me down when I explained what I was doing."
"The woman in the green, in the foreground, came to the opening in which her portrait appears. She came with her mom. And she thanked me."
"That couple: A lot of people think it’s a lesbian couple. But it’s a mother and daughter. I don’t mind. I like the ambiguity."