North Texas Daily

UNT alumna creates metropolis from meat

UNT alumna creates metropolis from meat

October 09
23:46 2012

Melissa Wylie / Intern

The structures of “Meattropolis” resemble those of any bustling city, except these towering skyscrapers and elaborate bridges are made entirely out of food.

UNT alumna Ayrton Chapman said the idea of building a model cityscape using food originated two years ago.

After graduating last December with a degree in photography, Chapman said “Meattropolis” developed into what she now calls her brainchild.

“‘Meattropolis’ is literally a city I am creating out of cast food items,” Chapman said. “It is an extension from my mind into the viewer’s, a vast world in which inhabitants’ daily lives mirror our own in some ways, but are estranged in various others.”

Though Chapman currently lives in Denton, she said she receives support and encouragement from her hometown of Kilgore, Texas.

Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said he is a longtime follower of Chapman’s work and was intrigued by her “Meattropolis” project. This led him to donate a large sum of money to assist in the completion of the project.

“I am fascinated at Ayrton’s unconventional approach to art,” Spradlin said. “In this day and age, it is getting more and more difficult to make people see art as well as life from a new and fresh perspective, and I think Ayrton pulls this off rather smartly.”

Photo by: Michelle Heath

Chapman said she is planning the plastic sculpture to be an overwhelming sight, with 6 by 6 by 6 feet dimensions and colors that will create a sensory overload for viewers.

Chapman has spent the last five months in her Denton home studio constructing the foundation of “Meattropolis” and experimenting to find the most effective way to turn real food into architecture.

The first step in creating an element of the food city is to purchase the food item, which will be cooked and prepared as if it was going to be eaten.

Next, the item goes through various processes using silicon molds and plastic resin mixtures as it becomes a plastic replication, ready for paint and assembly.

The original food item becomes unusable, and Chapman admits her guilt over the amount of food that will be thrown away.

However, Chapman said the project itself is a commentary on the wastefulness of society.

“This is a reflection of consumption and city lifestyle,” Chapman said. “I want to have a play between something beautiful, like the ease of life, and something grotesque, which is all the waste we create.”

Chapman said a number of pricey materials are needed, and the project is proving to be expensive.

“I under-calculated my expenses by quite a bit and over-calculated how far the materials would stretch,” Chapman said. “I want this sculpture to be very large, and for a large sculpture you need a lot of materials, which unfortunately, cost a lot of money.”

Chapman applied for the Clare Hart DeGolyer Memorial Fund from the Dallas Museum of Art, a grant that aids young artists in their endeavors.

The fund awarded Chapman $1,500, but she said more will be required.

To cover the expenses, Chapman started a donation fund on, a website that allows individuals to set up a medium for receiving donations to finance creative projects.

The deadline for contributions was Sept. 28, and Chapman surpassed her $3,500 target.

Heidi Leverigt, a sophomore at Kilgore College and close friend of Chapman, said she is interested in the concept of the project and made a financial donation to support Chapman’s hard work.

“I’ve enjoyed watching her grow as an artist,” Leverigt said. “When [‘Meattropolis’] is completed, it will be really monumental for her and the art community. Her whole vision is coming together.”

Chapman said that the final product would show donators it was money spent wisely.

“Meattropolis” is still in its initial phases, and the completion date is scheduled for a year from now. Chapman said she is arranging possible showings at UNT galleries and the Cohn Drennan Contemporary in Dallas.

She also said that “Meattropolis” would have purpose beyond exhibits.

A prospective project involves the sculpture as the setting for a series of stop-motion videos depicting daily lives of “Meattropolis” citizens.

“The pros outweigh the cons for me,” Chapman said. “Yes, I’m wasting a lot, but I’m creating this piece that’s going to be used for multiple things. It’s going to be really malleable.”

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