Bred in Kuala Lumpur, the experimental artist and baker Jamie Tan worked for a world renown Argentinian sculptor, Adrian Villar Rojas for the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. She was being asked to create cake sculptures for an art exhibition, Theater of Disappearance.
1) Moved to California all by herself
Jamie Tan took a leap of faith when she moved to California to attend the California Institute of Arts (CalArts). She was braving the foreign land alone without her family to complete her degree in Experimental Arts.
2) Baking cakes as a meditative practice
She started baking cakes and fancy French pastries as a practice to help her balance the 20 credit semesters she was taking as a student at CalArts. The relationship between textures, flavours, memory and feeling naturally started informing her art practice.
3) Earliest project
One of Jamie’s earliest projects at school is Annata – featuring hand-drawn animations projected through gelatin. She enjoyed creating a visual language between her art and the cakes as the processes have become very much intertwined. Soon, as if by accident, she saw the two practices fusing together. Since then, her artistic skills evolved from traditional illustration and sculptures into large-scale installations.
4) Started her own studio at the age of 23
Upon graduating, she started her own studio so use her skills in all forms of multidisciplinary art and emphasis on handcrafting visual experiences. As a multi-talented artist, she also works as a designer/animator on broadcast projects and one of her biggest projects is Parker Institute of Cancer Immunotherapy Gala in 2016 with The Motion Arsenal.
She was in-charge in designing stage screen projections. Some names that graced the stage against these backdrops were Sean Parker, Tom Hanks, Bradley Cooper, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Legend and Lady Gaga.
5) Worked with Adrian Villar Rojas, a renowned artist
She met Adrian Villar Rojas, a renowned artist in 2017 who happened to be in search of a local cake artist to help with his most recent exhibition, The Theater of Disappearance that was on display at the Geffen Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles. Jamie’s work on the art exhibition is just one example of her wide-ranging art practice.
Just like everyone else, she attended an interview with Adrian before being hired. She sent him the link to her baking portfolio, Epicuriosity that featured a mix of food experiments.
6) She baked 70 experimental cake sculptures
She baked at least five cakes a day for a couple of months to complete a total of 70 cakes sculptures for the art exhibition. On average, it took probably two or three hours per cake to complete.
With Adrian as her Kitchen Consultant and Designer, she created a conversation between both sedimentary forms and textures. The cakes represented a sense of nostalgia, hidden in a timeless landscape of collected yet abandoned artefacts.
7) Jamie’s masterpiece
During the exhibition, all the cakes will be visibly transformed by the natural process of decomposition. In order to ensure the cakes will decompose, she worked only with food-based ingredients.
She practised a series of baking experiments to explore the different textures of cakes and bread and making sure they all will be decomposed within the one-month exhibition. For instance, she wasn’t using eggs to replaced with vegetable oils to slowing down the process of decompose.