2,000 Sugar Cups is the title and goal of Margaret Braun’s installation at New York’s Museum of Art and Design. Since June, she has been an artist-in-residence there, handcrafting drinking cups, made exclusively of edible sugar materials like pastillage and royal icing. MAD’s Artist Studios program allows the public to see her work up close. Every Tuesday, people visit the sweet-smelling, glass-walled space with curiosity and questions.
Are they edible? Yes. Can you use them? They have a negotiable functionality. Why 2,000? “It’s a number I know. I made 2,000 cakes for the royal wedding in the middle east,” says Margaret. “It’s a balance of a big intimidating number that’s just about human scale.”
Cake artistry is Margaret’s profession, with the intricate sugar work on the cakes evolving into objects. An artist friend had completed a MAD residency for pottery and suggested Margaret apply for 2,000 Sugar Cups. “Artists make things and they go away to collectors – but the pieces still exists,” she explained. “All of my cakes were given away and were destroyed. Maybe now I’m hoarding.” She’s adamant about keeping the cups together.
2,000 Sugar Cups is a study in opposites. The cups are valuable, but worthless as sugar. They’re ordinary objects, transformed into art. They are made from the same mold and materials, and yet each is unique. Margaret has been pondering this since her childhood in Levittown Long Island. “Where I grew up, is an academic study of individualism – everything came from the same template – and individuality strives against the sameness.”
Visit Margaret Braun at the Museum of Art and Design, Artist Studios in Manhattan on Tuesdays through January 30.
Originally published in Cherry Bombe Magazine Issue No 6.