Bolt Down: our narrative of food insecurity

Medium: paper skin (felted mulberry fiber paper), thermo formed styrene, stain, acrylic varnish

Artist: Sammy Lee

Project assistant: MSU Denver student Gabriel Hutchings

January, 2022

Bolt Down Mural

Bolt Down: our narrative of food insecurity is a temporary mural project based on food insecurity in Colorado by Denver artist Sammy Lee. With this project, Lee hopes to highlight the inequality and injustice issues related to Coloradans’ access to food. CVA unveiled the mural on February 4, 2022 and Lee gave a short talk about the project which you may watch in the video at the bottom of this page. In conjunction with this project and an upcoming exhibition on food justice, CVA will be collecting donations for the Roadrunner Food Pantry throughout the coming months to support MSU Denver students experiencing food insecurity.

Please join us in support by either bringing a non-perishable food item to CVA on your next visit or by making an online donation to the Roadrunner Food Pantry today.

Artist Statement


Bolt down, v. Eat a large amount of food quickly.
synonyms: garbage down, gobble up, shovel in.

Bolt Down: our narrative of food insecurity is a temporary mural project based on food insecurity in Colorado. It works with statistics from the food insecurity issue highlighted by the updated 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey. The project introduces the inequality and injustice issues relating to our access to food. Aside from the more apparent income factor resulting in access to food, I was surprised to learn a considerable discrepancy based on race and age. Non-white Coloradans faced more food insecurity issues than White Coloradans. Here is a breakdown of how much food insecurity affects Colorado’s population according to race:

American Indian 23.3%, Black 14.3%, Hispanic 13.4%, White 5.9%. In addition, 14.5% of young adults from ages 19-29 face food insecurity, which is higher than any other age group.

The artwork has one hundred bolts and they represent the unit of each group. The colored bolts represent affected numbers out of 100 of the race/ethnicity for all reportable groups. The ten various-sized plates (some with a bolt, empty, or a cut out) represent the pre-existing condition of inequality. The bolt was cast from an actual sample on a bank vault. A tightly fastened bolt suggests a barrier to resources through a failed system. I use paper-skin (felted paper) in many earlier projects to often achieve a community quilt-like symbolism. In this project, I was pleased to evolve this meaning and create more effective dialogue at a large scale through community dining table-cloth-like texture alluding to a community fabric of Colorado.

 “In 2019, one in 10 Coloradans (9.6%) experienced food insecurity, defined as eating less than they felt they should in the past year because there was not enough money for food.

Putting food on the table was not the only challenge for Coloradans who struggled with food insecurity. They were also more likely to report unstable housing and difficulties paying their medical bills. And they were more likely to be in poor health than those who could always afford enough food.

Some Coloradans were more likely to experience food insecurity than others. A quarter of young adults in rural areas (25.4%), urban areas (15%) and a fifth of Black Coloradans (22.5%) experienced food insecurity in 2019. People with lower incomes, Hispanic/Latino Coloradans (15%), and women were also disproportionately affected.”

– From 2019 Colorado Health Access Survey


Food Insecurity Chart

(Note: Race/ethnicity groups are mutually exclusive. Those who identified as Hispanic/Latino ethnicity were removed from the racial categorizations and treated as a separate group. This data is from the 2021 Colorado Health Access Survey on food insecurity. Food insecurity was defined as those who reported they ate less than they thought they should because there wasn’t enough money for food in the last 12 months. Data were described by both race/ethnicity and age groups at the state level. Data that are not reportable due to sample size are denoted as “NA” in the tables).

By promoting equitable access to affordable, nutritious food, policymakers and community members have the power not only to fight hunger but to advance health equity in Colorado. We hope that you will feel empowered to learn about our region and take action to help more people access food.

For help with food security, to donate or volunteer, check out the following links: