3/12/08 --Artists nationwide are always looking to create edgier artwork, and the crunch to manipulate a medium in new, innovative ways has become tighter. National artist Ernie Button might have found his niche.
Button photographed playful landscapes made from cereal, which are on display in the art exhibit "Cerealism" until Friday in the Anne Kittrell Art Gallery of the Arkansas Union.
"Art is shaped by a person's life experiences and I am no different. I was raised through most of my single-digit years by a single mother that struggled to keep her family and young children together," Button said in an artist statement. "We didn't have a lot of money, so it was the small things that made a lasting impression on me as a child… something like cereal was a luxury item.
"The cereal aisle has become a cornucopia of colors, with marshmallows that resemble people and objects and characters from movies. It's apparent that cereal is not just for breakfast anymore; it's playtime," according to the statement. "In keeping with the playtime theme, I began to construct landscapes that would utilize the natural earth tones of certain cereals."
In the photograph "Finding Cereal," Button simulates a school of fish floating in an underwater abyss, highlighted in sun rays that are muted by water depth. Another photograph echoing the abyss theme is "'Star'Fish," which focuses on a lone starfish among other sea creatures.
With Grape Nuts cereal and crafty use of shadows, he created "Grape Nuts Dune #7," which is complete with dark skies and sunset-like clouds. "Shredded Wheat Bales," as the name suggests, features Shredded Wheat cereal in a way that resembles hay bales in a dusty Western movie.
"I placed enlarged photographs of actual Arizona skies in the background of cereal landscapes, giving the final image an odd sense of 'reality,'" said Button in the statement. "Other cereals that were more vibrantly colored or made to resemble people and objects were calling out to have their portraits taken, to be the center of attention. Cereal has evolved into cultural pop objects instead of just Corn Pops."
The cereal-sculpting photographer earned a bachelor of science and masters of science from Arizona State University. His art exhibits have been mainly showcased in Arizona and California. His latest work has been presented in group exhibitions, including "Alterations" at the Howard Gallery in Lincoln, Neb., "Latent Image" at the Mesa Art Center in Mesa Arizona, and "Hey Hot Shot!" at the Jen Bekman Gallery in New York City, according to Button's resume.
Additionally, Button's work can be viewed at www.photoeye.com.
The Anne Kittrell Art Gallery hours are 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.