Only crumbs remain of popular art exhibit

Jeremy McCord worked freehand with 3,500 M&Ms, several cans of white icing and a 32-by-40-inch frame. He went withDr. Seuss, the theme suggested for the 19th annual Edible Art Exhibition at Towson High School, and sculpted the bite-sized bits of red, white and black into a grinning replica of the Cat in the Hat.

"I liked 'The Lorax' best as a kid, but the 'Cat in the Hat' is the most recognizable Seuss concept," Jeremy said.

The framed piece took Best in Show last week and the freshman entrant chose a gift certificate for ice cream from a prize board.

The exhibit drew dozens of whimsical and ultimately tasty delicious entries from all manner of media. Fledgling sculptors made roads of licorice, pools of blue Jell-O and truffala trees of pretzel sticks topped with multicolored cotton candy. There was a gooey Nutella volcanic eruption, a marshmallow-faced porcupine with red licorice spikes and a gradually rising mountain range of graham crackers.

"What could be better?" asked sophomore Nicole Demczuk. "You get to eat while you work."

And, best of all, after the prizes are awarded, everyone digs in.

Staring at the image of the Lorax carved in dark chocolate, sophomore Aly Yarkony said, "I would feel bad eating that chocolate Lorax, but it looks so good."

Art teacher Caryn Martin, dressed in an oversized Thing 1 T-shirt, said the show gives students an opportunity to dabble in sculpture using media stocked in their kitchen cupboards.

"In a way, they can sculpt without boundaries," Martin said. "Food allows their imaginations to go free, even wild."

Like Jeremy, many drew their inspiration from Dr. Seuss characters, while others followed the author's "places you will go" musings. Those included a chocolate suitcase, a world map iced in many hues and cakes carved into the shapes of easily recognized landmarks.

"This is a really cool way to get involved in art," said freshman Maura Pannebecker.

Sophomore Christian Pirnot built a replica ofMoscow'sSt. Basil's Cathedral of cake, donuts and assorted candy. He frosted the entire structure in pale orange and placed a large photo of the real Russian church beside his creation.

"I like Russian history and architecture," said Christian. "I think the domes on the cathedral are really cool and intricate."

Linda Popp, arts coordinator for Baltimore County public schools, started the exhibit as a creative fundraiser when she was a teacher at Towson High and has returned every year. She recalled her own daughter's artistic endeavors for the event, a family dining room and kitchen that were occupied for days with the ingredients and a house filled with a lingering sugar aroma.

"It has now become more about celebrating the creativity of a community," Popp said. "Kids spend an entire weekend working on this and parents get really involved with them."

After the awards were given, Martin told the participants to place themselves strategically and wait for the countdown to "eat the art."

A multi-layered red velvet cake rendition of a Seuss scene fell within minutes. Three students were munching together on different parts of a sizable teddy bear, made of Rice Krispie treats. Others laughed when their snagged structural parts led to the implosion of an entire scene.

The only piece that escaped destruction was built of fresh fruits and vegetables and held together with hummus. The healthy concoction won first in the copies category for the duplication of "Vertumnus" by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a 16th-century artist. It might have been one of the few pieces to return home intact with the 21st-century artist, freshman Ilona Wittenberg.

Christian won in the architecture category and received a Five Guys gift certificate. "I have cake to go with the meal," he said. Maybe not: His entry seemed to be among the most coveted during the edible phase of the show.

Although Jeremy's Cat in the Hat took about seven painstaking hours to create, he said he didn't mind when schoolmates grabbed M&Ms by the handful.

"We took lots of pictures, because we knew it would disappear," said his mother, Meghan MacMillan.