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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A sweet, sweet art show

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Student graphic artist turns decadent desserts into a unique exhibit

Buena Vista University art student Amy Janssen turned a sweet tooth and a talent for graphic design and photography into a one woman show that was hosted by the new BVU art gallery this week.

The exhibit not only delighted viewers' eyes, but was virtually guaranteed to have them leaving with growling bellies.

In "A Taste of Sweetness," Janssen created amazing deserts, then captured them in remarkably detailed photographs that she set into unusual blocks, panels and shapes and blew up to sprawling size.

The many series of panels seemed to jump off the wall with colorful cakes, pies, cookies, gelatins, fruits. Looking closer, the viewer would find the ingredients of each desert incorporated into the subtle background of the art.

She rounded out the show with candles that permeated the air with some of the sweet scents featured in the artwork, and flip recipe books she had made for all of the desserts that went into her art.

"Food is one of the many pleasures we have in life," the senior said of her unique graphic design show. "When one enjoys food, all of their senses are tantilized. Taste, aesthetics, texture, smell, crunch. The challenge is to be able to call upon all of these senses through photography, color and design."

She set out to draw the viewer in for a personal experience with the food. Colors, patterns and textures were mixed in a way to evoke memories of past celebrations with families at kitchen tables, she explained in an artist's statement for the exhibit. The background text is in a script font reminiscent of a mother's handwritten recipes, adding to the intimate feeling.

The images could easily be imagined as stand-along art works for sale in a professional gallery, or as advertisements in a restaurant or upscale food magazine - both functional and attractive.

Translating the large works which spread across arms' length on the walls into a tiny recipe card booklet that can be help in the palm of a hand was another challenge, but Janssen wanted to make her work marketable as well as pretty.

Some of the elements of the works may not even be apparent to the viewer's eye - but it is to their stomachs.

Panels come in threes within a single food theme - a practice known as triptychs that is said to hold power, balance and spiritual meaning on a deep level. The shapes and colors also have emotional meaning - orange, found in many of the pieces, is thought to subconsciously evoke hunger.

While the artist prepared each dessert to test her recipes, she is more into the art than the calories - much of the food is too sweet and rich for her taste, she told the student newsaper, The Tack.

She used a form of photography known as high dynamic range; three separate images are taken to capture various elements of the light range, then combined to make the colors and textures "pop" out from a plate of pumpkin bread that looks as though it would be over-warm to the touch, rich chocolate cookies, decadent cheesecake.

While the show lasted for only a matter of days, Janssen plans to make her recipe booklets, which stand up on their own for ease of use, available while they last, for $10.

Interested persons may reach her in care of the BVU art department, 610 West 4th Street, Storm Lake, 50588.

My only complaint with this show - it really, really needed to come with a snack bar.