My interest in frosting stemmed from my immediate environment, a society filled with sugar. The form of sugar that suited my temperament, as an artistic medium, was ready-made Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines cake frosting. As my work progressed, I began to expand to more sculptural cake decorating mediums such as fondant and gum paste. There is something about these mediums that are innately attractive. Its porcelain quality advertises pure satisfaction. From the moment of consumption one could forget about all the worries of their life and just rise up to a sugary heaven. Over the years of making this work I received many comments, saying “Your work just makes them feel good, like everything is going to be O.K..”
This nurturing theme of Hope is carried into the Fortune Cookies series (1997).Chocolate, orange, and vanilla fondant snuggle up against one another while holding a secret fortune inside. Fortune cookies aren’t as foreign based as one may think. Actually they were originated in LA by a Chinese cook who wanted to raise the spirits of the people during the depression. These little involuted cookies held moments of hope and inspiration for those who needed a little external support.
My Frosting Installation works (1991- 96) were composed of three inch wide strips of wood that supported the cake frosting along the contours of the room. After the wood work is covered with frosting I make a signature mark with my finger down the middle of each piece turning the elaborate sugar laden path into a personal visceral journey. The first pieces were simplistic strips that zipped up the wall layered with chocolate or vanilla frosting. Later the pieces became full color, taste and smell installations with elaborate labyrinths, large repeating patterns, ten foot high floral sprays , and Celtic knots on the floor, walls and any other architectural nuances all joined together by a continuous line of frosting. Smells of strawberry, root bear, licorice, etc. fill the space, giving one a taste-of-art before their eyes have even seen the work. Taste, smell, vision, and touch all became part of the pieces.
Exploring the more refined sculptural aspects of fondant frosting, a new work blossomed called The Gentling of the Bull (1998); a ten part series taken from the 11th century Chinese Zen illustrations of the Ten Bull Pictures, traditionally accompanied with the artist’s/monk’s comments and poems.
The series begins with a monk starting his journey to find the bull. He finds the tracks, eventually spots the bull, harnesses the bull, struggles to tame it. He brings the bull back to his home, realizing the bull is himself becomes enlightened and then enters every day life to share what he has learned.
This Hero’s Journey, an inward path to find one’s true self, is an underlying structure hidden in most of the frosting works. It began in the form of linear abstraction installations and ended in small illustrative narratives. These journeys have a dual nature. One part of it pulls the participant into the world of the senses complete with all the drama, and the other part is saying “Wake up, its all an illusion, it's just Sugar.”
When I have installed my frosting works in a public space I see it serving the community as a huge celebratory cake with all of its layers and shapes bringing people together for a moment, a special moment, like a birthday or wedding. It is similar to the Tebetan sand mandalas, where the monks create a elaborate work of art out of colorful sand, connecting the many aspects of existence, only to be destroyed after its completion.
Like all great moments, it must come to an end. There is the reality of impermanent/ephemeral nature of things. Although the theme of the ephemeral is forever, things do die and life moves on; Sugar Baby and Tibia Bone Flute (1997).
Here is the point of the Frosting Series. Life goes by soooo quickly. Be present in the moment. Enjoy what is right in front of you. Eat it up, bath in its convoluted nature. Get sucked into its winding paths, and pop out every now and then with the Ah-Ha. Every moment is fleeting and precious, treat it with respect, joy and compassion.