Students made 10 different cakes, each representing a social issue that they were concerned about such as poverty, racism and domestic violence. Then they held a semi-formal tasting in the elegant campus sitting room complete with a pianist and twin glowing hearths. Held aside, the poverty cake would be delivered to a local shelter after the event.
The students included Erica Arcudi, Emma Badia, Juliana Blanton, Jesse Coleman, Casey Fahey, Jesse Franklin, Jekka Garner, Emma Hawkins, Kerry O'shea, Kik Ratanajittung, Jenna Rdesinski, Sydney Shaw, Gray Swartzel and Cait Yow.
Before the tasting, they read brief statements about the poetic relationship between the flavors of the cakes and their corresponding issues. Here’s a complete listing of the issues and their cakes:
Substance Abuse: Orange-glazed rum cake
Poverty: Carrot cake
LGBTQIA: Multicolored cake with black frosting
Self-Hatred: Red velvet cake
Mental Illness: Spice cake with Earl Gray frosting
War: Crumble cake
Sexual Assault: Coffee-inspired cake
Technological Apathy: Apple cake
Racism: Marble cake
Domestic Violence: Glazed lavender lemon Bundt cake
Some cakes had a clearer correspondence than others. The wildly peaked “domestic violence” Bundt cake evoked both the domestic industriousness and gender disparity of a 1950s homemaker, with “lavender and lemon to comfort those who have been victims of abuse."
The utterly black “LGBTQIA” cake, sparkling darkly with an encrustation of sugar crystals, revealed a dazzling rainbow of inner frosting once it was cut, representing social repression of “lesbian chic” and flamboyance while also co-opting it toward marketing ends.
Other cakes were more flatly metaphorical—the delicious debris atop the “war” crumble cake; the swirled batter of the marbled “racism” cake; the red velvet “self-hatred” cake set upon a mirror rather than a cake stand.
Whether or not empathy was achieved, “A Taste of Empathy” prompted useful thought about how aesthetics and politics can relate. And, after all, you got to eat cake too.