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Chocolate display from local artist goes on display, with some help from Sarris

| Monday, May 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Fosdick-Nelson Gallery
Artist Heather Joy Puskarich's “Heautoscopic Jaunt' was fashioned with a white chocolate coating, specifically developed for her project by Sarris Candies in Canonsburg.

You can view and admire the “Heautoscopic Jaunt” sculpture.

Just don't eat it.

It might be tempting, though. The 350-pound creation, made entirely of white chocolate, depicts the lying-down body of the Western Pennsylvania artist who created it, in intricate detail. Heather Joy Puskarich — who alternated between her native Dallas and Peters while growing up, and has family in Canonsburg, Washington County — created the sculpture with Canonsburg's Sarris Candies, which provided the chocolate to top the plaster mold that encased her body.

“They thought it was a crazy idea, and we weren't sure it would work, but it did,” says Puskarich, 42, who owns a house in Garfield and earned a Film Studies degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003.

Sarris made a special cocoa-butter-free chocolate with a higher melting point for the art project, and candymakers cooked the chocolate over a very high heat to add beige and dark marble-like streaks to the white color, president Bill Sarris says.

“The pictures don't do this justice because we literally burned the chocolate,” Sarris says. “We burned it so that it looks like real marble.”

Puskarich created “Heautoscopic Jaunt,” a three-piece project, in about a year. The mold started the shape, but now, the sculpture is solid white chocolate, from the center to the surface. After the chocolate was poured over the mold and set, Puskarich carved out the fine details, “like an artist chiseling a big block of marble,” Sarris says. “It's almost like carving a pumpkin.”

Puskarich says the yummy-looking chocolate sculpture, which made her hungry as she created it, fits in with her common art theme of desires.

“Heautoscopic Jaunt” is on display through the end of May at Alfred University's Fosdick-Nelson Gallery in Alfred, N.Y., where Puskarich is completing her master of fine arts degree in sculpture and dimensional studies. Sarris hopes to bring it home and display the sculpture at Sarris Candies.

“I was truly shocked when I saw the finished item,” Sarris says. “It's well worth the look.”

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

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