Calgary-based queer artist KC BAE said if they could give people listening one thought to take home with them, it would be that all things change and nothing lasts forever.
“Life is short and sweet,” BAE told the crowd gathered at the Airdrie Public Library (APL) Thursday evening to watch him unveil a gingerbread representation of the future public library building, which is set to open 2025.
“Throughout my life, I have struggled with the concept of perishability,” BAE added. “I get it: Nothing lasts forever; whether it's friendships I’ve lost, love I fell out of, pets that died, or citizenship changing when I immigrate– whatever that was.
“My art is, in a way, a sugarcoat, pun intended, to help people internalize that concept.”
KC BAE only switched over to creating perishable and edible art in the past year, and has gained some local renown in Calgary for realistic portraits done completely on edible cookies. When the Airdrie Public Library’s adult programs coordinator Lisa Murphy Lamb approached BAE a few weeks ago, she wanted to see if the artist might be willing to bring their cookie portrait art to the library as a featured art installation. But BAE had other ideas about trying out a new type of artistic medium in making handcrafted gingerbread structures.
“I said: ‘Why don’t we try something a little risky and a little bit different? What if I use a laser cutting machine at Fuse (makerspace in Calgary) and make an architecturally accurate gingerbread house of the new coming library?’ Lisa took the risk and said, ‘Let’s do it!.’”
So Murphy Lamb arranged delivery of the future library’s architectural plans, and let BAE carry on from there.
BAE said it turned out to be far more of a challenge than they initially thought it would be.
“It has candy windows,” BAE explained. “It’s made out of gingerbread. There is icing glue which holds it together, and there are even LED lights inside because I decided to make it look like a party.”
The entire work was handcrafted and hand painted with entirely edible components, except, of course, the LED lights. Besides the challenging craftsmanship involved in combining so many complex edible materials, BAE said the biggest struggle was getting the gingerbread formula correct so it would hold the shape the artist wanted.
“There were like 1,000 bumps in the road, and so many potholes.” BAE explained. “It was like driving in Edmonton. Over the last three weeks I had a breakthrough– a new recipe for gingerbread.”
It was this breakthrough which led to the successful unveiling of the gingerbread replica of the future library building Thursday evening, and more than just a little media attention surrounding the event.
Murphy Lamb said the extra publicity was unanticipated, but more than welcome as the library gets set to embark on an exciting new era in Airdrie.
“This was actually a contract between the artist and the library, but I think there has been some hype about it,” she admitted. “And I think we are all really excited about the new library. By having this library (replica) structure for the next month, I think it kind of makes it real and exciting, because it is gingerbread.”
“Today is a really fun and exciting day,” agreed BAE. “There has been a lot of excitement in Airdrie for the new coming library, and this is a part of that project.”
The future library gingerbread model will be on display at the current APL building throughout the month of December.