K-State art professor Lynda Andrus has turned a sweet taste of her childhood into art.
A trip Andrus and her brothers made to a candy company as children, where they each got the chance to pick out any package of candy they wanted, proved to be inspiring.
Her brothers chose chocolate; Andrus chose the candy with the most brilliant wrapper.
"I chose my candy for the wrappers because they were so beautiful," she said. "The colors glistened as if there was a light behind them."
Between that moment and her penchant for building 3-D creations out of odds and ends from around the house, Andrus' parents knew pretty early on that she'd grow up to be some kind of artist.
Her exhibition "Sweet Treats" is a throwback to her roots, combining the bright, colorful wrappers of modern-day confections with articles symbolic of the innocence and simplicity of childhood. "Sweet Treats" is available online at http://www.k-state.edu/art/faculty/bios/andrus_lynda/
The pieces in the exhibition were created from vintage fabrics and clothing, toys, and other items that have been embellished with candy wrappers and, sometimes, the candy itself.
In all, the exhibition consists of 20 works made from fabric, paint, candy wrappers and other found objects, most from thrift stores or antique shops.
Some are old-style pieces of clothing from Andrus' past that now are adorned with lollipop fringe. One is an abacus that uses candy pieces to keep count. There are worn metal charms, painted wagons and toys, colorful loopy rugs, even furniture decorated like a child's candy-filled dream.
"This series of work crosses the boundaries of fine art and fiber art," Andrus said. "I take an idea, then address the materials and techniques I need to execute it. A combination of sewing, painting, quilting, weaving, collage and assemblage might be used in a single piece. The union of fibers and fine arts opens up a whole new world of exploration."
"Sweet Treats" -- which Andrus has been actively displaying for about five years -- brings together her skills as an assemblage artist and her enduring fascination with bold, splashy color and simple shapes.
She was inspired to begin creating the pieces for "Sweet Treats" when she brought a bowl full of Starburst candy into class for her art students. As they unwrapped each piece, she began noticing the vivid colors and texture of each wrapper.
Pretty soon, the bowl of candy was accompanied by a container in which to collect the wrappers.
"Sweet Treats" has become a truly collaborative process, she said.
"With the candy wrappers it really has brought my students into it, too," Andrus said. "They feel like they're part of the piece. They've definitely added to it."
Andrus estimates that each piece of art takes 200-300 wrappers and 60-70 hours of intensive studio work to bring out its playful qualities.
"I'm up until 2 or 3 in the morning. If you drive by my house you'll see the light on in my studio," Andrus said. "You have to have a passion for it."
Andrus said her artistic inspiration is endless.
"I just can't turn it off; it's not an 8-to-5 job," she said.
While the exhibition contains some deeper messages about childhood, Andrus said all that she ultimately wants is for people to enjoy what they're seeing.
"I just want people to look at my pieces and smile," she said. "If I get that, then that's enough."
Photos: Lynda Andrus, K-State art professor, poses with some pieces from her "Sweet Treats" exhibition. Below, some pieces from the same show. (Courtesy photos)