Recollections, 2019

Grand Rapids, MI , Size approx. 10x10x5’

Mixed Media Participatory Sculpture with Pastry

My mother, Lisa, was a single mother of three young girls, and worked both a full-time and part-time job. She took up cake decorating as a creative outlet, as well as to provide supplementary income for our family. She would come home from work to make my sisters and I dinner, and after cleaning up, most nights would head back to the kitchen to bake. I remember sitting on the corner counter next to the kitchen sink, my legs dangling over the cabinets while watching her every move. She would open box after box of Betty Crocker cake mixes, start batches of pudding on the stove, whip up her signature buttercream frosting, and study her wilton cake decorating books as she assembled celebratory cakes for clients. 

We often reflect on those moments, and how those times baking held our family together. The nostalgia of those nights and the intimacy and comfort of those memories are no doubt what drove me to become a baker in my career now, with my specialty also being in celebratory cakes. Recently, I inherited the only scrapbook remaining, featuring photographs of the cakes she was commissioned to do. In those photographs, I can still taste the cake trimmings and feel the dining room table where she worked, and where we ate. 

Recollections is a participatory sculptural piece. It presents the memories of a mother and a daughter, and the feeling of comfort brought on through shared experiences. Placed on the dining room table are five cakes replicating those from my mother's scrapbook, each of the cakes I made utilizing the same box mixes, techniques, and decorations that she would use. The piece pays homage to my own mother, while also celebrating the work single mothers do to tend for their families. 

Note: During this exhibition, visitors were invited to participate. The following was a note during the exhibition: I invite you to sit at my table. As you slice a piece of cake for yourself and share in my memories, I encourage you to reflect on your family, and your memories of cooking and baking, and the comfort those times brought to you.