New Jersey artist Michael Massaia’s masticated sculptures of sea creatures, flamenco dancers and space helmets are made entirely from spat-out gum.
Article from The Creators Project
Generally seen as an ordinary bit of confectionary or, if you’ve stepped on some, a social menace, bubblegum is a sculptural medium for Michael Massaia. The New Jersey artist’s mini-sculptures range from anatomical organs, flowers and sea creatures to clothing and more abstract shapes. Despite appearances, none of the images are digitally manipulated.
‘All are created from a single piece of chewed gum,’ says Massaia. ‘I mold them using my hand, tongue and teeth. ‘One night I was sitting around, chewing gum, and blowing bubbles,’ he told The Creators Project. ‘For some reason I removed a blown intact bubble from my mouth, shaped like a human heart, and looked at it on a light box.’ ‘I was so amazed by how much it looked like actual organ tissue,’ he continues. ‘The depth and complexity of the textures was way beyond anything I could have imagined.’
Massaia mounts each new bubblegum work on black plexiglass and photographs it using a Creo scanner or large-scale camera. ‘By combining this new medium with photography, I felt as if a whole new world was open to me courtesy of Hubba Bubba,’ says Massaia. The images recall another series, in which Massaia photographed melted ice-creams in all their multicoloured swirling glory. ‘The effect on me is literally nauseating,’ wrote critic Jonathan Jones.
Massaia’s other work also finds depth in the apparently banal – there are photo series of old pinball machines,LED advertising boards, and discarded call-girl cards. Despite the complex processes involved in his gum sculptures, Massaia says he works alone: ‘the sole craftsman from the instant the negative is exposed to the moment the final print is made.’