Archive for July, 2009

Bake Sale Residency: Shulie Seidler-Feller

July 4, 2009

This is long overdue!  Shulie was a resident baker for the Bake Sale Residency for Artists program On June 4th at Smack Mellon in DUMBO Brooklyn for an film screening event.  She baked delicious fruit hand pies (the crust was made with cornmeal, yum), gingerbread whoopie pies, and chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, both with cream cheese frosting.  Holy hell, that stuff was amazing.  We’ve finally worked out the interview, which is below, and although I can’t find the cable to connect my camera to my computer to show you pics of the bake sale (they will be up shortly), I can share with you Shulie’s photographs of her portrait project.  Read on for the interview.

copyright Shulie Seidler-Feller

Tracy: Can you tell me about your body of work and about the project you were raising funds for?

Shulie: Bruckova is a self-portrait project that seeks to document generations of women in my family using photography as the central vehicle, as well as elements of performance. The prefix used in my maternal family’s Czech naming tradition, Bruckova—the diminutive form of the surname Bruck, is used to tie these women together, to establish a connective thread between these women. I make these large-scale “portraits” of my female relatives using props culled from my living family: their clothing, jewelry, makeup, and photographs all inform these images and often are used in my photographic process. I use my memories of these women as well as information gathered from interviewing my family members to attempt to construct the personalities of these women in front of the camera. Using studio lighting equipment and a large format camera, I aim to reconstruct these women’s personalities—often trying on their personas in addition to their clothing. To learn more about the project, email

copyright Shulie Seidler-Feller
T: How long have you been baking?  Do you come from a long line of bakers?
S: I grew up in a house where cooking was a central part of life. From a young age I helped out regularly in the kitchen. While my mother only started baking later on in life, my grandmother cemented my love of baking very early by baking a special birthday cake for me each year. I started baking on my own at the age of 12 (I used to love to make cinnamon rolls for my brother!) and have continued since.
T: How was your experience in the kitchen baking for the bake sale?
S: It was a little frenetic. I decided to bake a lot of different things, so it took me a while to get the job done. I did very much enjoy both the baking and the selling of the goods, however.
T: What did you enjoy most about your bake sale experience?
S: I most enjoyed being able to sell what I had made directly to the people eating it. It was great to hear that they enjoyed the baked goods– I like to take pride in whatever I make. In addition, it was great to see the nostalgia that some of my goods brought up in people–it gave me real insight into the connection between food and memory.
T: What were some comments about your baked goods during the bake sale?  Were you able to chat with anyone about your process, your ingredients, and/or your portrait project?
S: The most interesting comments made were about the gingerbread whoopie pies that I made. I love to make them because I think they combine savory and sweet flavors nicely, but I was surprised to see that people gravitated towards them because of the kitschy quality they seem to have. Several people were excited to see them because they claimed to have not seen a whoopie pie since childhood. Being able to clearly see the way in which enjoyment of food is linked to memory gave me good insight– in addition to the fact that it was so nice to be able to get people very excited about what I had made.

I chatted with a few people about my ingredients (specifically about what kind of fruit I used in my hand pies), but most people seemed more interested in eating rather than talking. No one really asked me about my portrait project. I think if there had been a better way to display that information and the connection to Sweet Tooth, that might engage people more. I did think it was great that the curator made an announcement about me–it was nice to feel Smack Mellon’s support.

<Thanks for baking your butt off, Shulie!>