Burkas and Cakes Featured in Splintered Humanity : Religious Extremism Museum Exhibit

On November 18 at 1:30, hear artist Susan Kraft talk about her Let The Eat Cake series as the inspiration of the Splintered Humanity exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art of Santa Clara, CA

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Susan Kraft stands near three pieces of her LET THEM EAT CAKE series in the Splintered Humanity Triton Museum of Art show in Santa Clara, CA

Susan Kraft stands near three pieces of her LET THEM EAT CAKE series in the Splintered Humanity: Religious Extremism Triton Museum of Art show in Santa Clara, CA

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.

Santa Clara, CA (PRWEB) October 31, 2012

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 which Triton Chief Curator, Preston Metcalf describes as an “art exhibition and social forum event (that) explores the diverse manifestations of religious extremism that continues to threaten the functionality of a tolerant world,”

By mixing images of burkas, cakes, girls and women, and the phrase, Eat Me, Ms Kraft creates a multi-layered journey through a world of constrained personal freedom that leads to subverting the image of women, displaying them as objects to be used, abused, or abandoned. The center-piece of the series is Unseen, Unheard; a seated woman, covered by the most extreme type of burka, holds a cake in her lap. The words Eat Me are written on the cake, much as the words Happy Birthday might appear. The pastry message is a metaphor for the tacit permission to use women as treats.

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. Later, 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 “didn’t want that kind of trouble”. A different series of paintings was substituted in that New York gallery.

Since then, only individual pieces of the series have been seen in group shows in art spaces such as WORKS gallery, Martin Luther King Library in San Jose, or the artist’s Palo Alto studio.

One painting titled Alice In Wonderland has caused some controversy. “Men can get incensed, indignant really, over Alice in Wonderland,” said Kraft. “Meanwhile, I’ve had women ask to have their picture taken with my painting, Virgin Refugee. Women gain strength from her.” 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 painting 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.”

Kraft said, “I think the most powerful piece is Unseen 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 another. 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.”

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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