Unpeeling the Orange Empire: Citrus & Art in the Archive

Unpeeling the Orange Empire: Citrus & Art in the Archive

History Hangout: Conversation with Suzy Kopf

 

How did citrus fruit come to carry its particular meaning in American consumer culture? Visual artist Suzy Kopf, instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, visited the Hagley Library to research citrus companies’ efforts to sell their products to Americans. What she found was a much deeper story of how changing technologies, markets, and popular culture made citrus, and its semitropical cousin avocado, into a beacon of sunshine, fun, and desirability.  

Supported by an exploratory grant from the Center for the History of Business, Technology, & Society, Kopf dug into a variety of collections to uncover the untold stories of American citrus in the twentieth century. From produce marketing photographs, to real estate and vacation pamphlets, to instructional booklets for citrus growers and grocery store operators, Kopf found a wealth of materials in the Hagley archives to inform and inspire her artwork in multiple media.