Boys & Girls Club members part of bread mural project
By David Dore
The Leominster Champion
July 28, 2016
A group of children gathered in the art room at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster Tuesday morning, ready to create.
After getting into groups, they were given their canvas and the tools they would need to bring their visions to life.
There was something unique about these canvases: They were 18-inch by 26-inch baking pans that had been painted gold. And inside the pans were pieces of toast.
Artist Jerry Beck is hoping to turn stale bread and baking pans into a mural measuring 100 feet long and 10 feet high that will go on display later this year at the American Visionary Art Museumin Baltimore. It might even break a world record, according to Beck.
“We hope that we’ll be in the Guinness Book of World Records so kids — they already feel a sense of pride, but when they’ve created a world record, it’s something we think they’ll never forget,” he said.
Beck explained that he is hoping to involve more than 500 young people, artists and members of the community in the bread art project. They will create pieces on a wide variety of issues, such as hunger, poverty, ethnicity, ecology and economics.
The mural will be displayed at the Baltimore museum for about a year starting in October, he said, and then it will return to northernWorcester County. He said there is the possibility of the mural being expanded in the future as part of The Revolving Museum, which Beck founded more than 30 years ago.
The bread art project started with a group of students at Mount Wachusett Community College. It will continue this week and next week at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster with a series of workshops with children involved in the club’s summer program.
According to Beck, the Wonder Bakery Outlet in Fitchburg andHannaford Supermarkets provided bread donations for the mural project. Country Pizza in Fitchburg toasted the bread, he said, and torches were used to burn the tops of the slices.
There was a reason the baking pans used for the mural were painted gold, Beck said.
“We want to talk about the preciousness of art and the preciousness of food,” he said, “and the preciousness of working together towards common goals.”
The pieces of bread will be covered with plastic urethane to protect them and prevent spoilage, Beck said.
According to the club’s art instructor, Camilo Neves, the bread mural project expands on the Boys & Girls Club’s program focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“The bread mural, I think it’s an excellent and very innovative idea,” Neves said. “I find it pretty amazing that it could be setting a world record for being the largest bread mural. And it gives the great opportunity for the kids, especially at the Boys & Girls Club, to be part of something pretty big that’s going to be in an art museum.”
The idea of using bread as the medium for the mural dates back about 15 years, Beck said, and a neighbor who was a baker and threw away a lot of bread.
“I said to him, ‘Do you think I can use that bread?’” Beck recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, it’s trash.’ So I recycled it all and we made bread art in Boston, and then we started a business started the Crumbs Company, which is kids learning how to make edible art, in which we’re talking about the ingredients of a good baked item is as ingredients that make a good person.”
“I’ve known Jerry Beck for a while, and I know his style of art and how he does community art, especially with the kids and The Revolving Museum,” Neves said. “I wasn’t very surprised that he was using bread at all. I thought it was up Jerry Beck’s alley with using the large plates of bread to create artwork with. I was pretty excited to hear that he was coming here to do it with us.”
For more information on the bread mural project, contact Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.