Amid lingering memories of the Great Depression and World War II, the 1950s in America were marketed as a prosperous time, Puritanical values giving rise to the nuclear family and the enjoyable comforts of their new home together. While dapper dad drove his immaculate, larkspur blue Chevrolet Bel Air convertible to work, mom stayed home with the children, a juicy roast perennially cooking in the oven, maintaining her glamour-model-meets-housewife appearance, her perfectly coiffed and curled hair never faltering. Exploiting the backdrop of this cotton-candy-colored world of powdery pastels, stripping this era’s idyllic illusion through undertones of tragedy, the works of artist Nouar scratch past the veneer of superficial happiness to subtly unveil the darkness beneath.

A Brief History of Nouar & her works

The impact of Nouar Boldy‘s duration at California’s ArtCenter College of Design was greater than receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as her enthusiasm for vintage animation, toys, and ephemera blossomed into an educated appreciation by the time she graduated in 2004. And while admiration for early to mid-20th century Americana is evident in her pieces, even as early as her first major solo exhibition in 2006, so was the cultural commentary she infused into her cinematic works, smiling food products à la Let’s All Go to the Lobby masquerading meaning underneath their painted layers. For instance, 2006’s Tempt Me, Tease Me is a literal and figurative cheesecake picture, referencing not only the anthropomorphic dessert at the base but also the cherry-holding pin-up model atop it. Or how 2012’s The Magic Oven embodies an ideal 1950’s dinner preparation while simultaneously vilifying America’s gluttonous consumption of food, the melancholy meatballs drowning in a pasta sea while an over-the-shoulder devil laughingly grasps its belly.

Capable of simultaneously celebrating and demonizing her subject matter, melding a collision of good and bad aspects into a cohesive whole, Nouar’s food-themed paintings took an evolutionary leap when she added a third dimension to them in 2009. Sculpting confectionary creatures and casting them in transparent resin, Nouar began affixing these sugary-sweet reliefs atop her paintings, those aspects underneath given the illusory appearance of having been devoured. Seen in works like Uncle Jello (2009), the molded Jell-O overlay’s appearance containing a gelatin salad swirl of strawberries within it, implying a needless consumption of one by the other, a reflection of America’s eat-or-be-eaten consumer culture. And while Nouar would employ this effective trick regularly throughout her oeuvre, this direction would proceed even further as the artist began creating stand-alone sculptures out of resin.

Nouar’s Jello-inspired Sculptures

Offhandedly referred to by their creator as “Lil’ Jello Buddies” (collectively) and “Lil’ Jello Pal” (singularly), these fully three-dimensional sculptures by Nouar debuted at 2014’s Satisfaction Guaranteed solo exhibition. Inspired by vintage Jell-O recipes, these aloofishly posed initial iterations and the subsequent Fun Fruit rendition gave way to the emergence of a more nervous body posture — a sitting fetal position — for 2016’s series that Nouar issued at the Corey Helford Gallery‘s 10 Year Exhibit. And while these cartoonish characters can be viewed as a commentary on mass production and the nature of repackaged goods, as Nouar cast all the pieces from the same mold and hand-painted them in an assortment of unique colorations, their gleefully dapper appearance likens them to smiling mascots, loving tributes to the easy-to-prepare dessert’s seemingly neverending popularity.

Click Here to Acquire Nouar’s Original Works (including her Jello-inspired Sculptures) from the Corey Helford Gallery.

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