At the tender age of 6, Jamie Marraccini, the world's only child prodigy
of gum, began his career as a gum salesman. The memory of your first business
transaction could have been the purchase of a piece of juicy gum for a dime
in school. As you began to soften the gum, you experienced an initial burst
of mouth-watering flavor. After twenty crucial minutes of chewing, the gum's
appeal had disappeared your gum was dead. Although Jamie nearly retired
at 10 from the lucrative gum trade, he often felt a void that the gum's
enjoyment was so short-lived.
Years later while in college, Jamie conceptualized creating artwork from
chewed gum. He experimented with gum covering the entire spectrum of colors,
flavors, and sizes. He determined chewing time, settling on twenty minutes
as a minimum. He aged all types to see which gums offered lasting color.
Lastly, Jamie developed a process that allowed the gum to become work-able
while it is in use and specific techniques and styles for its application
to the board or mounting.
Once Jamie decided to create artwork from gum, he realized he would need
to "outsource" a large percentage of the chewing, as some artwork
would require over 5000 pieces of gum. Jamie's relationship with gum had
come full circle. The child who once sold gum for profit now offers the
gum's flavor in exchange for its ultimate return.
Beginning with portraits, Gumart expanding into sculpture highlighted
by unusual hands, faces, tongues, feet, and occasionally Easter eggs on
steroids. Some might argue that Jamie's use of chewed "dead"
gum to create art is a "gum heaven" as he has brought forgotten
gum back to life. Now, the same child-like enjoyment you once felt with
a mouth-full of gum bursting with flavor, can be experienced with your
eyes as you view Jamie Marraccini's artwork.
James Marraccini is a Renaissance man: an academic, an athlete, and an artist.
Most humans merely dabble in one of these areas; however, James excels at
all three. As a student, he learned electric engineering and even tried
his hand at medicine before taking another path. As an athlete, he was a
scholarship recipient to play college soccer at the highest level. But it
is through art that James' genius shines brightest. Likely because it is
a mixture of intelligence, creativity, and manual dexterity. James' work
is much like one of the jokes you might hear him tell; when you first encounter
it, you can not help but smile and feel good.
At first, what grabs you is the bright colors and the smell that makes
you think back to days of middle school, where chewing gum reigns supreme
and is exchanged as some kind of teenage currency. But then, as you look
closer, you find that gum is just the vehicle that James uses to give
life to his images. In fact, the art gives the gum more life than while
being chewed, and more flavors to the eye than the tongue could ever experience.
Although the GumArt gives you insight to the artist's personality, it
is merely a small part of a great man.
Few people have the opportunity to mold and shape their dreams from nebulous
mental pictures to tactile realities which pulse with vitality. But, Jamie
Marraccini has done just that. He spends his time engrossed in a creative
bubble lucky enough to recognize his own dream and talented enough to bring
it to life. Somewhere along the line, we get so caught up in paying the
bills and making our next meeting that we have lost touch with our passion
for life. Most people grow up and their imagination fades into a distant
memory, their dreams turn from Technicolor to 1950's black and white and
their once grand plans become forgotten whispers. But Jamie views the world
through the eyes of a precocious child. He is innocent and fearless believing
anything is possible. He has never abided by the constrictions that society
places on our "normal" lives but would rather live homeless for
six months or build his own phone or create a vehicle in which to transport
all of us back into childhood. This mode of transport is GumArt and he is
generous enough to be our captain. He has taken all the joy and possibilities
of being young and covered a canvas with them in all the colors of the rainbow.
And maybe just for a little while we will see the world through his eyes
and we will then be the lucky ones.
Trenor Williams, MD
Los Angeles, CA