The Wu-Tang Clan turns 20 this week, making us all feel like old, dirty bastards. In celebration of the group's birthday, bakestress extraordinaire Amirah Kassem has curated a New York gallery of Wu-inspired confections called C.R.E.A.M.: Cake Rules Everything Around Me.
"Each piece was inspired by things that represent Wu-Tang to me," Kassem tells Co.Design. "Things like Chinese takeout, karate, songs lyrics (particularly the ice cream song), the logo, chess, and other Wu-Tang related things, like the Killa Beez, all made it into the gallery."
In "Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit," Inspectah Deck hints at the Wu’s passion for baked goods, rapping, "I bake the cake, then take the cake/And eat it, too, with my crew while we head state to state."
In Kassem's 36 chambers of deliciousness, we have a golden Killa Beehive cake; a frosted Wu-Tang sword, ready to defeat any Shaolin shadowboxer with its sweetness; and an edible Chinese takeout container embossed with the Wu’s logo and filled with Noodles (one of Masta Killa’s nicknames). They’re all photographed by Henry Hargreaves, who also shot Kassem’s Burning Calories series, which featured flaming donuts.
The Wu discovered Kassem via her popular Instagram account. The founder of baking company Flour Shop, Kassem is evolving into a kind of alternative Martha Stewart. She uses sugar and flour as an artistic medium and encourages the too-skinny fashion world to let themselves eat cake. "Design is design no matter what your working with—whether it's architecture, a canvas, or in my case, a cake!" Kassem tells Co.Design. "The differences are really only in the technique and execution."
Nothing is off limits in Kassem’s frosted imagination. Also in her Flour Shop: an edible Hermes purse; an edible Cy Twombly painting; a chocolate cake that looks like a very convincing T-bone steak; a cake beer pong table, complete with frosted red solo cups; and a white marble cake bust of Joseph Stalin, resting peacefully on a hammer and sickle flag.
"I start with simple shapes: circles and squares, which I slowly start sculpting and transforming," Kassem tells Co.Design of her baking process. "It's almost like building a puzzle, which I love! Next comes the fun part: frosting and decorating. I never really know with certainty what the end result is going to look like because ideas change along the way."
"It's a huge honor for me to be a part of this event since I am such a big fan of hip hop and the Wu-Tang Clan," Kassem tells Co.Design. The exhibition of Cake Rules Everything Around Me opened November 13 at Wallplay (118 Orchard Street). It's part of a larger multi-media group exhibition at the gallery entitled "Wu-Tang Hybrid Arts" (or "WU HA"), which runs through December 9. "WU HA" will open as a Japanese American National Museum exhibition in September of 2014.