Ontario Students Create Portrait in Burnt Toast

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Two Sarnia high school students have created a “fan-toast-ic” art project that is receiving a lot of attention on a New York Facebook page.

De Boer and McCann’s recreation of a HONY portrait, using toast as both canvas and medium.

Nathanael de Boer, 16, of Redeemer Christian Reformed Church, teamed with Emma McCann, 17, to work on an art project that involved recreating a portrait in toast. “I have no idea where my teacher got the idea,” said de Boer. “We all thought it was pretty ridiculous.”

That changed after he and McCann sent a photo of the finished project to the Facebook page Humans of New York (HONY) where the original photo was posted. De Boer describes HONY as an “ongoing photography project” by Brandon Stanton.

Within hours it had received over 6,000 “likes.” “We weren’t expecting to get a response, let alone be shared on his Facebook page,” said de Boer. “We were ecstatic.”

The portrait they chose to recreate was of a man playing chess, largely because it featured shades of brown, gray, and white as its main colors, and, as de Boer pointed out, “you can’t really convey bright colors in toast!”

The project took the pair two weeks and a total of three loaves of bread. They burnt bread with a toaster, and then used carving tools to scrape it, revealing the lighter layers underneath to create different shades of contrast. Some challenges were working out how to blacken the bread without charring it all the way through, keeping the toast whole once it had dried and become brittle, and carefully gauging how much to scrape off, since mistakes on toast can’t be erased.

The project was an instant hit on HONY. Stanton posted it with the comment, “In perhaps our most epic fan art submission to date, Nathanael de Boer and Emma McCann have recreated a HONY portrait using burnt toast.”

Comments soon followed, “toast”ing the artists and calling the work “breads-taking,” and “never stale.”

To date, there have been 15,900 “likes” and 638 “shares” on the page.

About the Author

Anita Brinkman is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Burlington, Ontario.

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