Fitchburg’s ‘Yeast of Eden’ exhibit a savory blend of bread and art

Fitchburg’s ‘Yeast of Eden’ exhibit a savory blend of bread and art

Sentinel & Enterprise


FITCHBURG — Flour, salt, and yeast. Together they make a staple seen around the world: bread.

At the Revolving Museum in downtown, bread has been transformed into art that celebrates its cultural significance.

The “Yeast of Eden — Bread Art Project” exhibit opened Saturday. Dough, pretzels, crackers and other bread products went into the painted figurines, crumb pictures, and silhouettes that are display at the museum.

“Every culture has bread, and food is often an art form,” said Jerry Beck, founder and director of the museum.
“The smell of bread and baking is a universal experience.

Jerry Beck talks about one of the pieces in the exhibit. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / JOHN LOVESentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting

Jerry Beck talks about one of the pieces in the exhibit.

The focal point of the exhibit are seven shapes that relate to bread. One is a boot with a farmer on it, which represents the people who grow the wheat used in bread. There’s also a salt shaker, donut, coffee cup, rolling
pin and a house.

On the artwork, pretzels, crackers, matzo, croutons and stale bread are grouped together and resemble a mosaic.

The bread shapes, which are a few feet large, are glued onto plywood and sealed with several layers of urethane
to prevent molding.

More than 200 people helped make the silhouettes at Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum.
Jerry’s 11-year-old daughter, Georgie, added flourishes to the piece shaped like a rolling pin and dough.

Using pretzels and a salt glue mixture, she added a peace sign and 17 stick figurines to honor the victims of the
school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

About 20 years ago, Beck had a studio in Boston. There was a bakery nearby that threw out old bread, causing a
rat problem. To prevent the rodents from coming, he took the bread and began to use it for art.

“It went from a scary scenario to a breakthrough,” he said.
Bread and community involvement have been part of Beck’s work.

He collaborated with students, bakers and artists through the Crumbs Company on bread art projects, which
include a toast mural. At the Jewish Museum of Florida, students helped Beck create a house featuring breads
from around the world.

That involvement has continued in Fitchburg through the Bread Project exhibit.

Beck worked with kids from the Boys & Girls of Club of Fitchburg and Leominster to make a toast mural that was on display at the Visionary Art Museum.

Catherine Judge, an art teacher at Sizer School, attended the opening to see her students’ work on display.

They made the painted figures mounted on baking sheets hanging in the museum’s window front.

Beck introduced her to Country Pizza owner Steve Loukanaris, who donated the dough used for the figurines.
Students liked throwing and kneading it and had to think about how their art would change when the dough

“It’s a natural type of material that wants to become something,” she said.