images courtesy the artist | click to enlarge

Japanese artist Koshi Kawachi uses food – often of the snack variety – to create sculptures that one wouldn’t typically associate with snack foods. His favorites, probably because of their wide appeal, are Umaibo (a Cheetos-like corn snack shaped like a stick), Potechi (potato chips) and baby star (crispy noodle snack).

Perhaps his most extreme undertaking is 107 Buddhist figurines carved from Umaibo – just short of the sacred number 108, according to Buddhism. Originally an illustrator, Kawachi moved around various studios drawing illustrations for Wired Japan, as well as creating flyers for Takashi Murakami at the ad agency TSTJ. But when his grandfather passed away, Kawachi attended, for the first time, the funeral of a family member. The event had a profound effect on him, sparking an interest in Buddhism and religion. He came across a story about how a Japanese Buddhist monk named Enku would always present families who had befriended him with Buddhist statues he hand-carved into sticks. The sticks quickly became play-toys for the kids – abused and misused.

But Kawachi saw an interesting lesson in the story and, from that day on, began carving Buddhist statues into Umaibo (literally, “delicious stick”).

Kawachi has also worked with other snacks in his “Embalming” series. Below is a broken potato chip he repaired using kintsugi, a traditionally Japanese method of using gold seams to repair broken ceramics.

Below, Kawachi empties a bag of Baby Star noodle snacks and adheres them onto a canvas.

Want to learn more about the artist? Check out this PechaKucha talk he did back in 2010.