Sarnia students the Toast of New York

Emma McCann and Nathanael de Boer are getting a lot of attention for their toast portrait after it went viral on the Facebook page Humans of New York.

Emma McCann and Nathanael de Boer are getting a lot of attention for their toast portrait after it went viral on the Facebook page Humans of New York.

St. Christopher art students Nathanael de Boer and Emma McCann are the toast of New York after a Facebook posting of their artwork lit up Facebook.

The Grade 11 students were given an unusual assignment from their teacher, Kelly Gordon; find a portrait you like and recreate it using toast. The project had to use at least one loaf of bread per participant.

McCann went searching for a portrait on one of her favourite blogs, Humans of New York (HONY) which has three quarters of a million followers. She found the picture of a hooded man with sunglasses playing chess. “I stumbled upon it,” she says. “It had the contrast we needed for the variation in colour and it was a good portrait.”

So McCann and de Boer went to work at home preparing the medium. “I was sitting in my backyard burning toast,” says de Boer with a laugh adding the smell hung in the air for a while. “I was doing it in my house so it was a little worse,” says McCann.

They took the toasted bread to school and began creating the portrait by dividing the picture into a grid and carefully scraping out the lines and shading. It wasn’t easy. More than once the pair worked on one piece of toast for 20 minutes only to have it crumble in their hands just before it was finished.

And correcting mistakes was a bit of a chore. “We complained all the way through the project,” says de Boer. “Toast is not good for shading because you can’t erase toast.”

DSCF9441“And it’s dangerous because you’re using knives,” added McCann. If there is too much shading, we used a lighter to toast it again.”

But once the portrait was complete, the pair was so proud of their work, they sent it to the creator of the HONY site. And he was effusive in his praise calling it “our most epic fan art submission to date.”

Over 15,500 people liked the portrait and 616 shared it with friends. Plenty of people had words of praise for the Sarnia artists. “This is by far the most amazing piece of modern art I’ve laid eyes on,” wrote Ike Mohamed of California.

“I would pay to see this live,” said MJ Caragan.

“This is so pro,” added Siri Nam Simran Kaur. “What? Are they professional toast artists?”

The students are excited by all the attention saying when they first completed the project, they didn’t think it was that good. “The first three rows didn’t look like anything, but then when you stepped back, you said ‘Yeah – there it is.”

And McCann and de Boer say they were glued to Facebook for the night watching as people commented. “Seeing my work on his page…I thought ‘is this real life right now?’…The comments were the best,” says McCann.

And the accolades have inspired them to explore their art further. “I thought, ‘so we had this, what else can we do?’” says de Boer.

Their teacher, Kelly Gordon, says that is what the project is all about. “I like them to explore …to take risks. That’s why I picked toast.”

– Heather Wright