JE art show tasteful, if not tasty

The food-based portraits designed by Jack Linshi ’14, a Sudler Grant recipient, said that each of the five portraits took him between three and 12 hours to complete.
The food-based portraits designed by Jack Linshi ’14, a Sudler Grant recipient, said that each of the five portraits took him between three and 12 hours to complete. Photo by Emily Suran.

There’s an artsy feast in the basement of Jonathan Edwards College.

On April 5, Jack Linshi ’14, a Sudler Grant recipient, presented his food-based exhibit, called “A Series of Unorthodox Portraits,” to roughly a dozen students and faculty members during an opening ceremony in the college’s basement. All the materials Linshi used to create his artwork were edible, including materials such as red wine, peanut butter and toast, chocolate and caramel syrup, and Miya’s sushi.

“I got the idea when I saw a YouTube video a couple years ago of someone doing something similar with chocolate syrup,” Linshi said. “I thought it was really cool.”

(Linshi is a staff reporter for the Arts and Living supplement of the News.)

All of the five portraits, each one of which Linshi said took from three to 12 hours to complete, were mostly made with more than one food element. Linshi said that at times it was challenging to match two materials that would blend well together to create at least “a small gradient of color.”

But the selection of food was not just based on its accessibility or texture, but also on its significance to the subject it depicts, Linshi said.

“Jack really gave the portraits meaning by using a food that was somehow significant to the person,” Nathaniel Barnett ’14 said, whose portrait hangs in the food gallery. “Mine, for example, was made of Vegemite, something that I — and very few others — love.”

Linshi said that Barnett’s portrait was the most challenging in many ways because of the texture of its materials ­— Vegemite and toast on margarine. Still, he said it was also his favorite, considering the way the materials were absorbed into the bread to create a “nice effect.”

Using food as a means to create art also serves as a form of preservation, Linshi added. By gluing the material to the canvas, only half of the surface is exposed to open air, which therefore eliminates many of the mold spores that could infect the food.

“Thus the act of making food into artwork immortalizes the food, allowing the subject, spirit and concept of the painting to live on,” Linshi said.

Linshi said that when it came to the preservation of the food, he had a lot of help from his parents, who are both food scientists. Having preservatives of all kinds lying in the house, Linshi said he grew up used to just taking chemical preservatives like natamycin and putting them on his work.

There are some other media, Linshi said, that he would like to explore and experiment with in the future — such as ketchup, mustard, jelly or ranch dressing.

The exhibit will be open until April 16.

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