Monday, 21 October 2013

Touching and Tasty

If “variety is the spice of life” and “a picture paints a thousand words”, then young Kelly McCollam is really achieving quite something by introducing a new and very interesting flavour to the art world with her inventive recreations of some of Van Gogh’s masterpieces using salt, spices and food-colouring as her sole medium to pay homage to her favourite painter.

In fact, Kelly McCollman, a 23-year-old American artist and photographer, is creating ground-breaking art works with her very touching tribute to Van Gogh. Having apparently fully perceived the deep sensitiveness of her favourite artist and source of inspiration, McCollman has followed his bold steps as far as innovation is concerned and ventured into unchartered territory within the art field.

Her “paintings” made from turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, salt, food colouring, onion chips, lemon powder and a hint of corn flakes strongly appeal to our senses. They tempt us with their flaky and grainy texture, their exquisite aroma, their volume and variety of colours. It should be stressed that McCollman does not manipulate their colour or texture in any way, preferring to “let the natural properties of the particular spices to be evident in the picture”, as she states.

And, yet, their life is but a brief and fleeting one, like spices thrown on to the wind... Precisely because one of Kelly McCollman’s purpose is to draw awareness to the impermanence of things, once she completes her works, she captures them in photographs and then sweeps each landscape away to “emphasize the ephemeral aspect of the medium, as well as life itself”, as she stated in an interview.

Her technique is based on handling the various spices on a board, carefully spreading and arranging them in the best way to replicate the landscapes she is working on. Ultimately, this turns out to be a great challenge to McCollman, since she has to be extra careful so as not to bump her medium or... even sneeze while she is creating her art works! She further admits that conveying the fine details is quite hard. This is one of the reasons why recreating the Impressionists works so well. The moon in her “Spicy Night” – a recreation of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” – for instance, is made of cayenne pepper surrounded by onion chips.

Amongst the Impressionists and besides Van Gogh – to whom she pays tribute with a collection of works – she also admires Monet and is very eager to star working on the great master of Pointillism, Seurat, whom she considers particularly adequate to be recreated through her quite unique medium and technique.

The final stage of the process, the destruction of the art works after having taken their respective photographs, proves to be particularly painful for the artist, which is quite easy to understand if we consider all the time, patience, creativity and effort invested in their production. But then, Kelly McCollman is a photographer too and her snapshots of her artistic creations gain thereby the status of masterpieces in their own right, as someone said. All in all, we can say that her homage to the genius of Van Gogh, besides unique and innovative, is a touching and tasty one!

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