The Sweet Tooth of the Tiger

The bake sale is one of the more delectable holdovers from elementary school: Quarter by quarter, cookie by cookie, you raised money for some field trip or classroom need.

Brooklyn’s Sweet Tooth of the Tiger aims to take that idea to the next level. Native New Yorker and founder Tracy Candido describes it as, “Part D.I.Y. food service project and part participatory art project that uses sugar as a medium and explores eating as social practice.” The projects that her Bake Sale Residents have funded on sugar range from food art (with Jell-O as the medium); a small theater; a book about cake; and a study of the intersection between Michael Jackson and lesbian culture.

Quite a mouthful! To further digest the concept of a roving bake sale that sets up at art galleries, magazine launches and film festivals, we sat down with Tracy.

Brooklyn Based: First off, where did the name “Sweet Tooth of the Tiger” come from?

Tracy Candido: The name “Sweet Tooth of the Tiger” just popped into my head! I often see an image before I have the words to describe something, and I was picturing a giant tooth with a tiny piece of cake stuck in it. It was an interpretive image of a “sweet tooth.” I began brainstorming about animals that had big, sharp teeth. A shark? A wooly mammoth? And then the tiger just made sense. I also think the tiger is my spirit animal.

BB: How does the Sweet Tooth of Tiger Bake Sale Residency work?

TC: The Bake Sale Residency is a real way for artists to raise money for a creative project while simultaneously advocating for an artist’s need and right for funding and payment. It’s also a way for the artist to insert themselves into a community to talk about their work and their ideas.

The way the residency works is this: artists send me an email stating their interest, what they like to bake, and what they are raising funds for. The artist gets hooked up with a venue that is having an event, they bake some sweets, and they arrive at the event with their sweets in tow. The venue provides a table and a chair, and the resident sells their baked goods for a suggested donation of between $1-$3.

BB: Do the artists bring information about their art endeavors and do event attendees inquire about them?

TC: That artists are required to bring visual information about the project they are raising funds for. Some people don’t really know all the details of the residency, they just want a cupcake. Regardless, conversations abound! New Yorkers ask questions and they ask them hard.

BB: You have a master’s in visual culture theory. Any connection between this degree and Sweet Tooth of the Tiger?

TC: I’ve always been a baker, and I’ve also always been a critical thinker. I was studying theories about public space, the performance of the body and of gender, networks of power, and contemporary art. I would reflect on my reading and research by going in the kitchen and baking things. The methodical step-by-step process of measuring and mixing helped me become less of a crazy person during grad school.

It seems to make sense now that I would be applying theory to baking since my time in the kitchen would also be spent mentally unpacking and turning over these concepts in my head…I had the mental image of offering and feeding people baked goods, bake-sale style, in an art space, to play with all these theories I was thinking about in my kitchen.

BB: What’s next for Sweet Tooth of the Tiger?

TC: Sweet Tooth of the Tiger is growing in a number of ways. I’m still finding ways for the residency to really help the artists applying. I’m considering teaching a workshop on how to make your own bake sale. I’m interested in empowering artists with the idea of community and of eating together. There’s something powerful about bonding over food (especially food that makes you happy). Sweet Tooth of the Tiger is just one of the mechanisms or apparatuses of my creative practice and research about social practice and arts education.

Currently, Sweet Tooth of the Tiger has a lot more artists than venues. Are you a venue looking to host a bake sale? Email Tracy!

By Alicia Kachmar, sent by Annaliese. Photos courtesy of Me So Hungry food blog.

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