Take a moment and think about the word cupcake. What is the first image that comes to mind? Is it an apron? A housewife from the 1950s perhaps? This question is what UFORGE’s current revolver artist, Kate Burgess MacIntosh, is exploring with her show Hello, Cupcake! Upon approaching her work, you are immediately entranced by the aroma of the sprinkles and the cake-like texture of the paintings. However, just like in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, there is more than meets the eye. So don’t take a bite out of those cupcakes just yet! I recently visited the Whitney Museum in New York to see the Yayoi Kusama retrospective. If you aren’t familiar with her work, Kusama is a Japanese avant-garde artist who happens to have an obsession with polka dots, to put it lightly. She is known for her polka dot rooms covered with amorphous balloon shapes (see image below). This dreamlike environment may remind you of being in Disneyworld but if you dig deeper, you will find that these brightly colored dots actually represent her disturbed perception of reality. It doesn’t seem like that on the surface does it? What Kate and Yayoi share in common is that their work provokes the viewer to question what they see instead of blindly accepting it.
I decided to speak with Kate to uncover what lies beneath the frosting…
What is your main objective with Hello, Cupcake? How do you want the viewer to approach your paintings?
The goal, for me, in working on the pieces for Hello, Cupcake! was to build both a visually and conceptually evocative body of work. I wanted the exhibit to stand as a cohesive body of new work, but to equally be a culmination of strong individual works. Each piece in the exhibit works with the installation overall, but each is a singular work as well.
Could you explain what led you to explore femininity in today’s society?
I have been exploring the history of women, and women in contemporary society, in my work since I was an undergraduate Fine Arts major. My initial attraction was my growing understanding of how far, historically, women have come and in many ways, how much is and can be taken for granted. I’ve circled back to food, beauty, and body image in many of my pieces, both through paintings like those in Hello, Cupcake! and through more sculptural works and installations. I gravitate to highlighting everyday objects, frequently utilizing the concept of “ready-mades” and collections, which I believe is what also attracted me to working in museums–lots of objects, displayed in interesting juxtapositions.
Have any particular artist’s inspired your work?
I have always been inspired by women artists, especially those that explore femininity, the female body, and women’s history. I think of Louise Bourgeois as my artistic grandmother, so to speak, as someone who has always brought lofty ideas to life in strikingly visual ways. The performative pieces of Janine Antoni and Marina Abramovic are also some of my formative experiences with how one can explore some of the topics I seek to tackle with my work. In the last few years, I’ve been struck by Tara Donovan’s ability to transform everyday objects, which is clearly evident in some of my pieces, such as employing jimmies as a painting medium—a ‘can this actually work’ sort of exploration. And then, there’s Andy Warhol…let’s just say, its love/hate with him…
“Hello, Cupcake!” is on view at UFORGE Gallery through September 9, 2012. Don’t miss it!