The Art of the Donut with Mo Neuharth

Good thing I’m not the jealous type or I would definitely decide to hate Mo Neuharth. She’s the type of woman that can show up in an archaic cut-up t-shirt paired with print short overalls I imagine everyone’s bratty younger sister wore in 1991 and look like she’s ready to reshape popular culture with the easy power of her overlashed eye.

When Mo Neuharth goes for a walk in the morning to pick up some doughnuts, she doesn’t spend the afternoon in a sugar coma watching courtroom television. No, instead, she might be struck by the unique aesthetic value of these frosted, doughy concoctions and plan a new project. Three weeks later, that very same project is set for release through Art Problems, Neuharth’s own publishing house. That, folks, is how an artist walks to a doughnut shop.

The Catalogue of Donuts will be released this coming Saturday, April 26th, at the  Tempe Zine Convention 4. The collection will be Mo’s first studio project. Her previous work tends to center around found moments; the unplanned fall of light against a car, a home, a bush, the street. The Catalogue of Donuts represents a different aesthetic principle, one that is constructed. The objects (doughnuts) are elevated to the level of art through their removal from their natural environment (doughnut shop) and reexamined in a studio setting where the application of light and background contextualizes each object, emphasizing its natural beauty and its strangeness.

At the same time, I would argue the doughnut as a cultural metaphor is resoundingly appropriate. Popular, decorative, sugary, seemingly innocuous, but dangerous if overindulged. There is a vapidness to the doughnut and also an innocence of childhood recalled in the bright colors and candy additions, a relationship that Mo emphasizes in both selection of each object and placement on bold backgrounds. Color has always been a key defining aspect of Mo Neuharth’s photographic endeavors and The Catalogue of Donuts provided the perfect platform to work within her vibrant palate.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of The Catalogue of Donuts (and future projects from Art Problems), is Neuharth’s view of accessibility and art. A recent ASU graduate, she understands that dropping a lot of money on a photography book isn’t always in the realm of possibilities for most of us on the grind. The goal of Art Problems is not only to get more art made, but to make that art accessible. The Catalogue of Donuts will be available for a nominal amount ($10). And, each copy will come in a hand-stamped paper bag just like one you might use to carry home a doughnut or two.

I can’t wait to get my copy nor can I wait to see what comes next out of Art Problems, the publishing house that Mo Neuharth is slowly constructing, one neighborhood walk at a time.

For more Art Problems, click here.