The Words Eat Me Take On A New Meaning

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On Sunday November 18th, Susan Kraft discusses her “Let Them Eat Cake” series at a closing reception for “Splintered Humanity: Religious Extremism in Defiance of a Global Community” at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, CA. Kraft’s breakout series was the inspiration for the show.

"Unseen and Unheard", a 30x24 inch oil painting by Susan Kraft showing at the Triton Museum of Art

"Unseen and Unheard", a 30x24 inch oil painting by Susan Kraft showing at the Triton Museum of Art

I think the most powerful piece is 'Unseen and Unheard', which was the piece that inspired Preston to build the whole Splintered Humanity exhibition. It features the Eat Me cake in the lap of a Burka covered figure.

On November 18 at 1:30, hear artist Susan Kraft talk about her “Let Them Eat Cake” series as the inspiration of the “Splintered Humanity” exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art of Santa Clara, CA. The burka and cake series is part of an exhibition that is “to be the central hub of a social forum: a series of events and programs to engender community discussion on this timely and all too prevalent phenomenon,” said Triton Chief Curator, Preston Metcalf.

These paintings gained notoriety on several levels. Kraft used a child model for one of the paintings. The parents later denied that it was their child after they saw how the series developed. That painting is named “Alice In Wonderland”. Other viewers also raised concerns. Originally, the little girl had a cake identical to the cake in "Unseen and Unheard". “Men can get incensed, indignant really, over the original Alice in Wonderland. I decided to move the words to a slip of paper sticking out from under the cake,” said Kraft. “Meanwhile, I've had women ask to have their picture taken with my painting, "Virgin Refugee". Women gain strength from her. The original debut of "Let Them Eat Cake" series was to be in Chelsea district of New York City in 2006, but the gallery owner saw the paintings and said she “did not want that kind of trouble”. A different series of paintings was substituted in that New York gallery for the 2006 show.

Kraft said, “I think the most powerful piece is Unseen and Unheard, which was the piece that inspired Preston to build the whole Splintered Humanity exhibition. It features the Eat Me cake in the lap of a Burka covered figure. In this piece, the cake and words tell us this person's true identity is ignored and buried under a faceless costume and offers only non-nutritious substance to the other. The words Eat Me symbolize the lure of the artifice of adult womanhood, whether obscured from social context by an actual Afghani-style burka or taking a path that does not come from within herself.”

Kraft's burka paintings have created a different sort of discussion. “People ask me how an American could nail the feeling in "Face Behind the Mask", a 5-foot tall red painting in where a huge face looms behind a woman in a burka. That one seems to move the most people. It doesn't matter to me if people get mad or cry when they look at my art – what matters is they feel something. If a piece of art makes you feel something, that piece is successful.”

The closing reception runs from noon till 2pm. 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 25th.

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Carl Yorke
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