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Redeemer Arts

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

Friday, May 25, 2012

Make The Cake And Eat It, Too.

“Lately, I’ve been thinking about Jesus in the manner of how he is all consuming.” Or, it was something in this vein the artist Melissa Beck articulated during my recent visit to her Pratt studio. Evidence of this statement filled my eyes as I perused one of her utensil pieces: a horizontal band of silver-plated forks happily glued to the wall by thick cake frosting.  I was ready to partake in order to taste and see how good God is.

As a new fan of this emerging artist there is one thing I must herald about Melissa’s work: It is not just a cerebral exercise, as most of contemporary art is these days, for it jogs our embodied vision utilizing touch, smell, and taste. Her art is a holistic experience and through her use of food and household objects she explores ideas of consumption along with its tension between abundance and scarcity. This is exemplified by one of her pieces entitled “Drawering Room.” Does the collection of empty drawers hint at hoarding or are they waiting to be filled? These themes have already been explored by CFW guest speakers such as O. David Taylor and Andy Crouch who remind us that in God’s infinite kingdom to gain means we must give away.

Thoughts on the infinite and the finite are further mediated through variations of constructed cakes. Melissa assembles both real cakes oozing with icing and more durable confections made of building materials such as wood, nails, and foam. Her choice of repurposing ordinary objects such as bread, ironing boards, and furniture are overtly charged with nurturing implications redolent of home, family, and community.  Some may see the work as sentimental, but I prefer to view them as markers pointing to the accessibility of an eternal home made possible by our all consuming Christ.

Take in God through the arts!

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