Hi, I’m still Jami and I’m still a really picky eater but now I have more cakes that talk about it!
Thesis Statement: Sugar Coated
For as long as I can remember, the idea of trying a new food has been terrifying. I stick with what I know (like plain grilled chicken, fries, pizza with no sauce, and plain pasta with butter) and avoid the unfamiliar and gag-worthy (looking at you, mustard).
The only exception is thanks to my sweet tooth — I will basically eat anything one would consider dessert. Growing up, I learned to bake delicious family sweets from my talented maternal Grandma. At the same time, my paternal grandma, who I call Nonnie, was a working ceramic artist who taught me how to sculpt and create with clay. Throughout my life thus far, I have continued to pursue baking and ceramics. For me, the bridge between the two is cake decoration.
In American culture, cake is the most celebratory dessert you can have. By using cake decoration to “sugar coat” my personal opinions about particular foods, I aim to replace its celebratory connotation with commentary on my life with restrictive eating habits.
In my documentation as artist-as-subject, I have pushed myself to try new foods and have explored how my aversion to unfamiliar foods effects both me and those close to me. Art direction, color, and photography come into play to highly stylize this personal content as a reflection of who I am beyond my picky eating habits. And, in case you’re wondering, a lot of cake was harmed (eaten) during this process.
I knew I was going to have three different tiered fake cakes (made of styrofoam rounds and covered in spackle “frosting”).
I impulsively ordered a blush pink round ottoman (which ended up being returned) and a bright red rug. I had no idea what I was going to display my cakes on though (and definitely panicked a little).
But then the next day I somehow acquired two great pedestals thanks to my professor James and TA Jason! Thanks guys!
Making Fake Cakes
After stacking and hot gluing the styrofoam rounds together, I mixed acrylic paint into lightweight spackle to “frost” the cakes.
Pink Cake: “Hi, um is there any way I could get a margherita pizza but with no sauce? Oh also no parmesan.”
Blue Cake: “I don’t know if I can eat anything there—hang on let me check the menu…yeah no.”
Yellow Cake: “Why would I try that” “eh” “yuck” “gag” “gross” “no” and other phrases of me reacting to the idea of trying a new food
Somehow during all of this I gathered some extra pedestals and tables. Then, my old professor Kristen Coogan saved the day by helping me figure out how to place everything within my space in the gallery.
Since the text on my cakes wrapped around, it was very important that a viewer could walk around the cake and be able to read the whole thing.
Each cake has its own pedestal, along with a table against the wall for my supplementary books. The mirrors act to reflect the backs of the cakes to oncoming viewers, like in a traditional bakery case.
I am so happy with how the installation of Sugar Coated turned out, and it was so fun to watch people interact with it during the opening reception. After putting so much thought and work into this project all semester, it was truly crazy to see it finally come together. I also fooled a lot of people into thinking they were real cakes, so I think it was a success!