Untitled (Jayne Mansfield), #8
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© Jo Ann Callis

Jo Ann Callis
American, 1993
Cibachrome print
10 15/16 x 14 in.

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There are two cream puffs sitting side-by-side, with a red cherry sitting on the top of each as a finishing touch to a great mound of delight. Each cream puff is fully loaded, with a shell acting as the base and an abundant amount of whipped cream rising generously from it. It all sits on pink, fake-fur fabric. It speaks of abundance, with the huge whipped-cream filling that swirls around the center of each puff.
--Jo Ann Callis

This image is one of a series of photographs of dessert pastries--called "Forbidden Pleasures"--occasionally displayed together to invite comparison of shapes, colors, and other visual elements. Callis has said that these soft, sweet, colorful pastries, each lit and staged on a fabric of complimentary texture and design, is about the "idea that desserts and eating desserts carries some of the same psychological baggage as guilt." In other words, eating rich desserts in this health-conscious time can be considered a crime of sorts. In these images, there is also a tongue-in-cheek reference to human sexuality. The seductive ingredients of the pastries and their fabric environments simulate the look of flesh. Although the motivation for this project may have been an impulsive urge to have fun with both the glossy Cibachrome medium and the subject of sweets, Callis was no doubt drawing on the tradition of abundance found in earlier still life painting and the extravagant color of more recent painters representing popular culture.