Whoever coined the phrase “don’t play with your food” obviously never met artist Melissa Rachel Black, or realized just what exactly could be accomplished with an easel, a bit of creativity and a metric butt-load of gummy bears.
Feast (literally?) your eyes, on Starry Gummy Night:
According to Food & Wine, Black is an illustrator currently based in Portland, Oregon who has used more than 100,000 gummy bears to reproduce famous works of art and to create surprisingly accurate portraits of famous figures like Barack Obama and Lady Gaga.
To find out more about her process, we spoke with Black about all things gummy, and the trickiest part of working with the candy.
What inspired your work with gummy bears?
I started making the gummy bear mosaics in 2008 or 2009 when I was studying art at UC Santa Cruz, after I created a book where I'd photoshopped gummy bears into famous works of art for a digital art class. I can't remember exactly where the idea to make that book came from, other than I wanted to lighten the mood around all this serious art history I was learning. After I made the book, I think one of my classmates suggested, or joked, that I should make one out of actual gummy bears and I loved the idea, and voila!
What’s the trickiest part of working with gummy bears?
I'd say transporting them honestly. Each artwork weighs quite a lot because there are hundreds of gummy bears in each image, and you've got to be careful not to leave them in the sun or let the car get too hot.
Is the artwork still edible?
I don’t know if it ever was edible, actually! They don't sell the kind of gummy bears I use any more because of how many people got sick from eating more than a handful of them. But yes, if someone wanted one that would actually be eaten, I wouldn't have to change my process much to allow for that.
Have you ever worked with any other food items?
Many years ago I created some sculptures out of molten candy that I cooked up, including a jelly fish and toy guns. I don't have plans to revisit that but I definitely wouldn't mind playing more with that.
Do you have a favorite color gummy bear?
Clear gummy bears are my favorite in both flavor and versatility! I use them to create new colors
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