It’s square, its crunchy, it’s art and it’s toast.
“I like to take icons, images, materials and processes, and I like to present all of those things in a completely different way than we’re used to experiencing,” said artist Andrew Magee.
In the Christian Petersen Art Museum, 625 pieces of toast blanket a large portion of the floor. Ranging from golden brown to completely charred, Magee has created a piece of work, consisting only of toast, that comes together to make a portrait of Jesus’ face which he christened “Holy Toast.”
"At first [Holy Toast] was kind of confusing because it was on the floor, but once you step away from it, you realize it's more than just burnt toast," said Megan Rupiper, a sophomore in graphic design. "This is one of those pieces of work that you can't just look at for six seconds and be able to judge it."
Magee sees his materials as icons and tries to look at them in ways other people would not. He chose to use toast for his portrait of Jesus because it is an easily recognizable image.
The Holy Sacrament and the Body of Christ relate closely to bread, making them a natural connection, Magee said.
However, this piece is more than just about connecting the image and materials. Magee advocated the importance of perception.
He stated that sometimes, others see symbols of their religion in uncommon places, such as in an oil spill or a tortilla shell. "Holy Toast" is his way of playing off of those findings.
Magee said he believes that others’ beliefs and religious backgrounds have an impact on how they think and perceive this work of art.
“I usually deal with images, things and materials that are iconographic; things that culturally we’re very familiar with and that are easily recognizable,” Magee said. “Jesus is just another one of those things that virtually has universal, cultural familiarity. You don’t have to explain it to people. It’s just evident.”
Magee said he believes not all art has to be permanent or preserved. He said some pieces are made to be temporary and should be embraced just for a short amount of time.
The Holy Toast is an example of a temporary piece. It was set up in the afternoon of Feb. 5 and will be taken down at 4 p.m. Feb. 7.
“We don’t think about artwork that is temporal, and that is maybe only supposed to last for a short period of time. Maybe there is something inherently interesting and beautiful about that,” Magee said.
Though this is just a temporary work of art, close to 200 people have stopped by Morrill Hall to check out the large toast collage in the past few days.
This is not the first time Magee has made this portrait; he produced the same one at Iowa State last fall. He said he felt it was so successful the first time that reproducing it would be a good idea, especially with the way the piece fit into the rest of his collection.
“Stairway to Heaven,” a piece in the collection of a staircase made out of cigarette packs, needed maintenance from Magee. He used time during this trip to rebuild Holy Toast. The collection is on display on the second floor of Morrill Hall until April.