Thursday Salute to Originals: Chewing Gum Art

The thought of chewing gum is sure to conjure up numerous images and scenarios for different people. For instance, an adolescent boy might think about the wads of chewing gum ithat he shares with his baseball teammates on the bench before going up to bat. School children may envision blobs of chewed gum stuck underneath desks or pressed to the bathroom stalls. City dwellers probably view the same sort of chewed up blobs imprinted into sidewalks after being walked over thousands of times. For adults, it perhaps induces feelings of nostalgia thinking back to brands like Juicy Fruit, Big League Chew, Dubble Bubble, or Razzels. Whatever you envision, chewing gum has (or had) one purpose: To be chewed. This Thursday we’re introducing you to two artists who see chewing gum in a totally different way… As art.

1.Maurizio Savini: This Italian artist based in Rome doesn’t even chew his gum! After realizing how malleable the substance is, Savini first began melting down the gum to form layers and layers of usable material to create is animations. Now, he has two assistants who unwrap each square piece of gum, applying heat to them so they can easily be cut with knives or applied to plaster molds. Savini says the molds are crucial because without them his sculptures would fall apart due to the vast amounts of sugar content. “After molding the chewing gum into his desired shapes, Maurizio fixes and preserves his sculptures with a mixture of formaldehyde and antibiotics, so his works will be in tact for generations of Romans to come. This labor-intensive process at times calls for nearly 3,000 individual pieces of bubble gum per sculpture.” His sculptures often make different social and political statements, with the bold pink color representing the artificiality of society.




2.Ben Wilson: Wilson is an English artist who developed a natural dislike of all things “rubbish:” junk, broken cars, and waste. Eventually, his distaste grew into an art from when he began painting the small blobs of chewing gum pressed into the pavement. To do so, he first softens the gum with a blowtorch, sprays them with lacquer, and then applies coats of acrylic enamel. He then paints using tiny brushes and speedily drying his work with a lighter, sealing it with clear lacquer upon completion. Wilson’s tiny masterpieces bring the people of Britain a lot of joy. The colorful spots along the gray of the pavement brighten up not only the sidewalks and streets but also the residents’ moods. Many of the painted gum blobs represent the city they’re located in and tell a story. For example, in Wilson’s hometown of Muswell Hill, you will find several works in front of the post office – one of which commemorates a deceased postal worker with the letters “RIP” written on the gum. His main motivation for creating these gum paintings stems from showing humans their carelessness in disposing of such materials in the environment where they live.

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Today we salute these two unconventional artists for bursting the bubble of society’s normalities, and their conscientiousness of the environment surrounding us. Their abilities to turn a commercial and mundane object into refreshing and thoughtful works of art are truly unique and respectable – regardless of the scale at which they work.

Sources: Maurizio Savini, New York Times