She’s sitting at a table with some oatmeal. But she isn’t holding a spoon — she’s using a tweezer. Her food isn’t contained in a bowl — it’s spread all over the table. And instead of blowing to cool the food, she’s deliberately diverting her exhales, so as not to breathe on it.
She isn’t eating; she’s arting.
Oatmeal is artist Sarah Rosado’s latest project. In May of 2016, she began recreating famous paintings out of it. Her collection features 10 portraits altogether, from the Mona Lisa to Van Gogh’s 1889 self-portrait to The Girl with an Oat— erm, Pearl — Earring. In another portrait, swirling specks of oatmeal convey The Scream of a granulated figure and the hype around a relatively new artistic movement.
The origins of the movement date back to the 1960s with the work of such artists as Daniel Spoerri, who made art out of post-meal table spreads. Employing food as a means for making art, and as artwork itself, has expanded conceptions of the artistic process and what constitutes art.
To give a taste for more modern food artists, Jason Baalman makes presidential portraits using Cheetos. Stephen Brusche sculpts bananas. Christel Assante makes designs out of eggshells, and Tisha Cherry works with Oreo frosting on built-in cookie canvases.
Inspired by the work of such artists, Ms. Rosado hungered to create her own. She began making art out of food in March of 2015. The idea to use cornflakes came to her while eating breakfast one morning, and she has since ventured into other mediums, like toast, watermelon, and barbecue sauce.
Each piece takes six to nine hours of work, depending on its size and level of detail. At this pace, she can make three per week, using pins and tweezers to transport pieces into place.
Food art entails unique considerations. Cereal moves readily, making it easy to work with; oatmeal’s lightness requires a consciousness of breath to avoid scattering the flakes. Craving a challenge, Ms. Rosado speculates about someday working with liquids.
For Ms. Rosado, the most challenging and rewarding parts of food art are one and the same. Cultivating specks of food into cute, funny, realistic representations of people and objects has spurred an overwhelming and unexpected yet humbling response.
For me, the most enjoyable part of Ms. Rosado’s work is how the food and the art interplay to create something bigger than either aspect alone. The food chosen to represent a specific piece of art makes a statement about the piece itself. To see Van Gogh’s Starry Night constructed out of oats, for example, evoked a sense of wholesomeness, a connection between earth and sky, that I had never before sensed from this piece. Had Ms. Rosado chosen to represent the piece out of something other than oats, I might have interpreted the piece differently. And the art created out of the food makes a statement about the food itself. Food isn’t just a means of filling an empty stomach; it can be beautiful, funny, or touching in and of itself. Ms. Rosado’s art inspired me to view a banal object like a cornflake under a new lens. It forced me to rethink food and hunger, suggesting that artistic hunger and actual hunger can be treated by the same medium.
Ms. Rosado hopes to display her work in an exhibition someday, though all that remains of her approximately 45 pieces are pictures, as she destroys each design once she’s photographed it. After all, her canvas is her kitchen table, and she needs somewhere to eat.
Ms. Rosado encourages aspiring food artists to “be fearless, take challenges, fly without boundaries and go where your ideas take you, because in the end there will be many surprises.” In other words, stay hungry.
Cornflakes are Ms. Rosado’s favorite project. What’s yours? To see Ms. Rosado’s complete portfolio, check out www.sr-artwork.com.
All artwork courtesy of Sarah Rosado.