Young Artist Creates Portraits from Thousands of Chewed Pieces of Gum

Anna Sophia Matveeva, from Makiivka, Ukraine creates sticky portraits of celebrities from a very unusual material – used chewing gum. Every one of her artworks numbers over 1,000 pieces of chewed gum.

22-year-old Anna Sophia Mateeva says she came up with the idea of making art with chewing gum by accident. She was traveling with a friend in a car and they were both chewing on the rubbery treat when she realized the elastic texture of the gum made it an ideal art medium. She found a few brands of colored bubble gum and decided to give it a go, only it wasn’t as easy as she thought. Instead of chewing on every piece of gum, Anna tried soaking them in water and then modelling them with her hands, but she noticed the material became crumpled and would not stick to the canvas. The artist later learned it’s an enzyme in our saliva that makes the gum such a great material to work with, so she started chewing away at her provisions, until she realized it was impossible for her to chew all the gum she needed, by herself. And this is where it gets disgusting…

Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Ms. Mateeva needed over 1,000 pieces of chewed gum just for the portrait of Apple founder Steve Jobs, so she asked her husband, her relatives and some of her friends to help her out. Even if the donated pieces of gum were hard, they contained the needed saliva enzyme, so they just need some time in the microwave before being stuck on to the canvas. Each of her chewing gum artworks contains the DNA and saliva of at least a couple of dozen people, and Anna molded and placed every single piece with her bare hands. However, the artist told The View she is not at all disgusted by the process, as she sees herself having to cope with the same issues as a dentist or a surgeon.

Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters

So far, Anna Sophia Mateeva has completed five chewed gum artworks, but she is working on another half a dozen pieces. She will be showcasing her unique creations at an art gallery in Donetsk, Ukraine, and hopes to sell all of them. Steve Job’s portrait is priced at 8,000 hryvna ($1,000), a fair price, according to the artist, who says the gum and canvas alone cost 1,000 hryvna ($125). I doubt anyone will (literally) want to get their hands on it…

Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters


   

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