Jana Sterbak


Bread Bed; Cake Stool

Jana Sterbak was born in Prague in 1955; she lives in Montréal. Sterbak's Bread Bed (1997) emerged out of her experience at Sabbathday Lake. The bed is often the most important object in the home. It is the place where so many of our most important daily activities take place—sleeping and making love, as well as giving birth and dying. To have made the mattress of the bed from bread may speak of that compassion and warm domesticity evoked by Cake Stool (1997), the other work that Sterbak produced. This work also focuses on the ambiguous, multiple connotations of everyday Shaker activities and objects, and the tensions existing within them. The austere metal stool is a resting place for the working body. It evokes the rigid discipline with which the Shakers have long been associated in history. By contrast, the sponge cake that serves as its seat conveys the less celebrated aspects of Shaker life—warm domesticity, living compassion, and sweet celebration.