I have a friend in Nashville, Missy Gurley, who's a brilliant pastry chef. Seeing her creations made me think of cakes in a new way. Yes they are awesomely delicious and I'm on the verge of drooling as I write this. But cakes have history and some serious social weight.
I started thinking of the possibility of creating works of art using cakes as my subject. Was that a thing? Could I make it a thing??
I would want the cakes to have a specific look and then I would light them in my distinctive theatrical light painting style. This led me to want to know more about their past.
Cakes have been around for over 4000 years. They were invented by the ancient Egyptians at a time when their empire experienced significant cultural and artistic growth. As often happens in times of relative stability, the arts flourished and their civilization found the time to explore the finer things. One of these apparently was the creation of the glorious, universally loved freakin cake!
So I thought about what kinds of cakes I wanted to photograph and I drew sketches. I commissioned Missy to create very specific and mostly unusual cakes. I had certain aesthetic qualities I wanted to emphasize and they would be very different for each cake.
Cakes can symbolize many things, such as celebration, indulgence, temptation, nostalgia, or even political or social issues.
I wanted my cakes to be celebrations of the human spirit. I wanted to create a distance between mass production and commodification.
And so with me by her side, Missy produced these stunning works of art that I then lit and photographed. And finally, here they are...