Columbus-based stylist Michelle Maguire and San Francisco-based photographer Kelsey McClellan are the duo that make up Terrence Caviar. The pair work together as often as possible, flying between their two cities six to eight times a year to collaborate on compelling visuals that tell a story.
Terrence Caviar’s Towers Series
Their highly creative personal photo stories all revolve around food. For the duo, an idea for a new series can come from just about anywhere, but most likely from an observation made while people-watching. Michelle says, ‘I spend a lot of time watching people wherever I am – on a bus, in a waiting room, at the grocery store. That role started back when I was a kid, observing the beautiful chaos of my family.’
Their well-known 2017 series Wardrobe Snacks was inspired by watching the informal way people eat on the go – from a commuter on a bus retrieving his lunch from a bag to someone on her lunch break sitting on a park bench eating from her lap.
Their latest series Towers is inspired by Michelle’s Italian-American grandfather who’d build gravity-defying towers of objects found on the dinner table. It’s a series that speaks to the joy and chaos of family life, and the dinner table that brings people together. We chatted to the pair to find out more.
Tell us more about the inspiration behind this series.
Michelle: I grew up in a family of loud Italian Americans. They drank, ate plentiful amounts of pasta and cured meats, went to mass and gambled. During nightly gatherings at my grandparents’ house, I absorbed the sights and sounds of this beautiful and boisterous crew. There was my grandpa’s usual dinner-party balancing act, when he’d grab any remaining post-meal items from the table and build his own Leaning Tower of Pisa – with my grandma, her siblings and their spouses cheering him on with great delight. Exuberant, headstrong and robust, my older relatives made my childhood rich and colourful. I was dazzled by them and remember nothing but good times.
What’s the significance of the objects you’ve used?
Michelle: I made sure to stick with items that would’ve regularly been found on my family’s table – from nuts, olives and cured meats to pizzelles and rosary beads. This series feels like home.
What is your earliest/fondest food memory?
Michelle: It felt cool to be a kid dipping anise toast into coffee with my old peeps after dinner.
Kelsey: My grandma, June, was my babysitter when I was little and she had the biggest sweet tooth. She’d take me to Braziers (Dairy Queen) in the afternoon on hot days, and we’d share a banana split in the parking lot.
What’s the importance of pursuing personal projects like this one?
Michelle: Creating personal work is the most authentic way of expressing your truest style, which is ultimately what leads to someone being attracted to your work and wanting to hire you/collaborate.
Kelsey: It’s the only time you really get to do what you want, exactly how you want to do it. We’re compelled to make work because we deeply enjoy it, and we’re thrilled when other people end up enjoying it as well.