Artist Torches, Stretches Candy Wrappers for Halloween-Inspired ArtPrize Entry

Curators’ Corner

Artist Torches, Stretches Candy Wrappers for Halloween-Inspired ArtPrize Entry

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Using flamethrowers and the help of three dudes in fireproof suits, 54-year-old Paul Rousso constructed a pretty sweet mural.

With additional help from candy history and packaging guru Jason Liebig, the Charlotte, N.C. artist collected current and vintage candy wrappers for a 30×9-foot acrylic collage titled, November 1st. He told the Charlotte Observer the idea “just sort of unconsciously” came to him as he had been working with currency and felt a lack of color.

“Then on some level this popped into my head. I thought immediately that it looks just like my kitchen table on November 1 after my son’s done on Halloween,” he said.

Fair enough. After heating the wrappers to insane temperatures, Rousso – working against the clock – stretched and twisted them into form.

“You work with it while it’s hot,” he told the Observer. “You’ve got 20-30 seconds to manipulate it and then you’re done.”

As if tracking down candy wrappers dating as far back as the ‘50s, torching them and then sculpting them while hot wasn’t bold enough, the final piece was also an ordeal. After entering November 1st in the international ArtPrize competition, Rousso loaded a 15-foot truck with 80 sculptures and drove north to Grand Rapids, Mich. for the contest. Using a photograph of the arrangement as a guide, he said the installation was “like hanging 80 pictures on the wall and hanging them at angles that are just right.”

Unfortunately, Rousso didn’t win at ArtPrize…His only regret, though? – “I wish I had another 30 feet” for more wrappers, he told the Observer. “I catch all kinds of hell for leaving out this, that and the other.”