Krystal C. Mack

Krystal C. Mack

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A brown-skinned Black woman with shoulder-length locs standing in front of a domed plant conservatory with shrubs and plants in the background. She is wearing a sage-green leather beret and an off-the-shoulder cream-colored sweater.]

Portrait photo by Matt Freire.

Food Designer and Social Practice Artist
Baltimore, MD
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Builders Initiative.

A self-taught designer and artist, Krystal C. Mack uses her social practice to highlight food and the more-than-human world’s role in collective healing, empowerment, and decolonization. A critical element of Mack’s practice involves exploring food and nature beyond the limits of common consumption. She began her practice as a bodyworker and baker in the hospitality industry. She now approaches this work as a social designer and trained herbalist, maintaining regard for African diasporic foodways and following the intuitive ancestral wisdom of the Earth. Through comestible and social design, she seeks to unpack and heal personal traumas relevant to her life publicly. As a Black Autistic woman born and raised in Baltimore, her lived experiences speak through her practice. One of the traits of her Autism is impaired interoception, which poses a challenge when identifying physical pain, hunger, and thirst. While this neurological delay is an obstacle, it has also mediated her relationship with food and nature in a way that allows her to embrace the layers of her identity and use them as a conduit for conversational design. Mack does this by conceptualizing spaces and objects that invite the community to engage with food and the natural world in a multidimensional way. These spaces for dialogue and inquiry elicit a sensory call and response into the cultivation, or lack thereof, of sustainable and accessible practices that support or hinder reparative futures for marginalized communities.
  • Artwork by Krystal C. Mack
    Artifacts Of Resistance, 2019. Photo courtesy of the artist.
    [ID: A triptych of brightly-light photographs depicting a brown hand holding up a spoon and a rolling pin against a white backdrop. In each image, the hand holds the utensils in various combinations and poses.]
  • Artwork by Krystal C. Mack
    A Tale of Two Cities (from Oaxaca City to Baltimore City), 2020. Photo by Aileen Son.
    [ID: Photo of a table setting artfully arranged in still-life fashion against a white cloth with several candles burning, a colorful bouquet of flowers, ceramic dishes containing seeds and nuts, glass vessels filled with liquids, apples and melons, seed pods, and scattered flowers.]
  • Artwork by Krystal C. Mack
    PalatePALETTE, Issue 1, 2021. photo by Homie House Press.
    [ID: A magazine laid open to reveal a colorful two-page spread. On the left-hand page is a poem by Krystal C. Mack entitled "I don't wanna talk about it." The right page is a photograph of two hands with brown skin very delicately stacking eggs of different sizes and colors.]
Artwork by Krystal C. Mack Artwork by Krystal C. Mack Artwork by Krystal C. Mack