When Girls Go Undercover: Unexamined Lives

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Sunday, November 18th at 1:30, artist Susan Kraft discusses her painting series, “Let Them Eat Cake”. Triton Chief Curator, Preston Metcalf was inspired to create this installation by Kraft’s piece “Unseen and Unheard”. It shows a seated figure, completely cloaked, with a cake in its lap. The cake has the words, Eat Me, painted on the top, much like you would write Happy Birthday on a birthday cake.

Alice In Wonderland, oil on canvas, 16x20 inches by Susan Kraft

"Alice In Wonderland", oil on canvas, 16x20 inches by Susan Kraft. One of seven pieces in the "Splintered Humanity" exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art

When the image of a cake and a burka-clad woman first formed in my mind, it startled me because it was so raw and so sad. She was abandoned by life, kept in a corner in case someone wanted to use her.

On November 18th, Susan Kraft discusses her controversial paintings, the “Let Them Eat Cake” series at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, CA. The reception marks the closing of the exhibition titled “Splintering Humanity: Religious Extremism in Defiance of a Global Community”.

“Let Them Eat Cake” formed as a concept in 2005 and was vastly different from any previous work Kraft had produced. The series represents single points in a woman’s lifetime when choices are made, and the lives lived as a result of those choices. This idea is summarized in the 5-foot tall, bold red painting, “The Face Behind the Mask” which depicts a faded close-up of young woman's face behind a figure standing in a burka. The figure wears fashionable high heel shoes; her face is tear-stained and sad “implying perhaps, she is missing a fully explored life,” said Kraft. Even though “The Face Behind the Mask” is chronologically one of the last pieces painted, it is placed in the middle of the series. The entire story starts with a preschooler in shorts, kneeling, holding a cupcake. It finishes with a nude croneage woman sitting on top of the world, holding a slice of cake.

Kraft describes the genesis of the series this way: “When the image of a cake and a burka-clad woman first formed in my mind, it startled me because it was so raw and so sad. She was abandoned by life, kept in a corner in case someone wanted to use her. I could not shake that image. I painted it to try to clear my mind and go back to my other series, the ones my gallery sold. That first painting was "Unseen and Unheard", and as soon as I finished, three or four more appeared and I continued to capture the images on canvas. Seven years later, I have ten more of these in various states of completion in my studio. For a long time I couldn’t get anyone to show them for lot of different reasons. It is funny because now that the Triton gave me a place to show the “Let Them Eat Cake” series, I finally started painting another series that is not burka and cake centric. I think the cake pieces will be part of my art life one way or another for a very long time.”

The reception takes place from 12 to 2 PM at 1505 Warburton Ave, Santa Clara, CA. The talk starts at 1:30 PM. The Splintering Humanity exhibition includes six other artists; Tatiana Garmendia, Art Hazelwood, Roberta Loach, Harry Powers, Jos Sances, and Brian Taylor, and runs until November 25. The museum hours Tuesday through Saturday are 11 AM–5 PM. The museum hours on Sunday are 12-4 PM.

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Carl Yorke
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