I am fascinated and passionate about food and the environment.


As an environmentalist at heart, I struggle with the beauty of the oil pumpers, the towering derricks and glowing refineries. Just like most cities, Huntington Beach has transformed dramatically since my grandfather used to work in the oil fields, and 40 years ago my parent's track-home was built on the same oil fields. Today, instead of oil fields, there are numerous large estates, SUVs and crowded wide streets.

Inspired by my childhood memories of Huntington Beach, my oil well projects critique the growth of a city, speak about sugarcoating the past, and question land use for oil production.


My recent food related projects are about how we are fed and taught to think about food. The constant search for truth drives many of my artworks. It has also guided my artmaking to involve kids in the process through gardening and nutrition education. I realize that I don’t think I can make an artwork that can make a kid eat vegetables, but I can help them grow a vegetable and they will love and eat it. Tasting has become an important part of my artwork.


The Mini Mobile Museum of Sweeteners mobile cart presents information about artificial and natural sweeteners by traveling the streets of San Diego. For the last few years, I have been creating characters of various sweeteners, aspartame, sucrose, etc with trading cards to invite kids and adults to get to know them. As in most of my artwork, I use humor and sarcasm to present these sweetener “heros”. By eating foods with these sweeteners, although many of us don’t recognize them in the ingredients, they become “powerful” to the industry that then becomes richer. This constant stream of new products created by food scientists that drives the food industry is exciting but potentially damaging to our health. I find myself loving and hating food scientists at the same time. This contradiction is also about how we trust the industry and the government to know what’s good and then feel betrayed when we discover that they are more concerned about profit that our health.

@ 2014 Terri Hughes-Oelrich, All Rights Reserved