Visual Arts

Eye candy: Kym Bloom on the smell of Jolly Ranchers and Grandma's candy bowl

Artist Kym Bloom takes playing with her food to the next level by making art out of Peeps, Chicklets, candy hearts and Jolly Ranchers (among other candies). Bloom melts the candies with a butane torch, molds the melted forms together on a surface and finally coats the piece in resin -- a technique she uses in her other primary medium, her photo emulsion transfers.

Currently, Bloom has work showing in the back room of Zip 37, where she is a member, Plastic Chapel, Core New Art Space and Kanon Collective, where she is a co-owner. It may sound like Bloom has a lot on her plate, but she says she loves being a part of Denver's close-knit art community. Bloom took a break from her busy schedule to talk to us about her candy pieces, how Tootsie Pop wrappers inspired her and what she wishes she could do in Bed, Bath and Beyond.

So, what made you look at a piece of candy one day and think, "I'm going to make art out of this?

Actually, it started one day at work when someone was passing out Tootsie Roll Pops. I was looking at the wrapper and I remember thinking it was really iconic, because the wrapper hasn't changed since we were kids. So, I decided to make a piece out of Tootsie Pop wrappers. It was too hard to do anything with the wrappers, since they're so waxy. Then I had a bunch of candy left from taking the wrappers, so aside from throwing it away or getting diabetes, I had to do something with it.

I initially started doing weird sculptures and those pieces didn't turn out so well, but that's what I ended up doing it with Dum Dums, too. I was already working with resin on my photo pieces, so that ended up working really well as a way of securing the candy. The video game pieces came because they are a culmination of my two favorite things from childhood: video games and candy.

It's a pretty rare medium, right? Do you meet many artists who use candy?

There was a show at Space last year, and this artist did these beautiful black-and-white photos of women with candy on them. And I looked online and did research to see if anyone else was doing stuff with candy. There is an artist who takes jawbreakers, the big ones, and slices them into thin slices and makes art out of the slices. They are beautiful pieces.

But actually, Peeps are a very big thing. They have become a very big art form. In fact, I think there are more people making things out of them then eating them. I don't actually know anyone who eats them, but as art supplies, they rock. There is something just twisted about them. Candy is definitely the best smelling art supply I've had. Nothing like melting mango Jolly Ranchers -- they smell really good, even if I don't really like the candy.

What kind of candy do you like?

I'm more of a chocolate girl. I don't really like hard candy and most of it, I discovered, is corn syrup. There are some candies that I cannot work with in the summer because they get too much they just get so gooey, because of the moisture. I recently just discovered Chicklets, and they have become one of my favorites, because I don't have to worry about that.

Why not make art out of chocolate, then?

When you let chocolate dry out, it turns into a pile of whitish chocolate. Hard candy doesn't change as much. You know those grandmas who have the same bowl of candy for years, and it never changes? They have a long shelf life.

I saw someone who encased a Twinkie, but it was several inches thick on with Resin on either side. I don't think I could do I could do that with chocolate -- it would be a waste of chocolate, anyway. I couldn't do that.

How do people react to your art?

I think most of the reactions I get are people just sort of laughing and getting a general kid-happy feeling. I did see one woman walk into Zip, look at my art, and say, "Well this is just weird." It was funny the way she said it. But, I've found a lot of really great support. It's fun to have people look at your art and laugh. I enjoy that.

You're very active in Denver's art community. Do you try and make your art accessible to everyone?

I've always really tried to focus on smaller pieces and really affordable pieces because there's a beauty to having art that is really affordable and I wish people would realize that there are a lot of places in Denver that have a lot of funky great art that's really accessible and really affordable. There is a lot of stigma against galleries and art, but I really think it benefits people to explore art in their community. It makes me sad to see people get mass-produced art. Don't buy the mass-produced art -- support your local artists. I have always wanted to go guerrilla on Bed, Bath and Beyond and put little stickers up where there price stickers are that say, "Did you know you could afford original art for this price?"

For more information, or to contact Bloom, please visit her web page.

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Tiffany Fitzgerald

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