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Kara Walker’s Sugar Sphinx

Art as we know can be very commercial in it’s creation. But some art can contain social commentary and a message at the same time. Kara Walker’s project consisted of a huge sphinx with just as large African features. Even more surprising this massive sculpture had been coated in sugar and surrounded by life size human African figures.

Where was the sculpture installed, the MOMA? No. It was installed at a NYC barren Domino sugar plant near the Williamsburg Bridge, on the Brooklyn NY side. As children riding in my fathers car I had fond memories of watching the workers tiny as ants working, unloading barges to be processed in the plant knowing it was the same sugar we used, so lucky to see the manufacturing so close to home, but never allowing schools to tour the process.

Brooklyn NY Abandoned Domino Sugar Factory
Slated for Demolition

Conceived as a tribute to the slaves of The Triangular Trade, who were stolen from Africa, dropped in the Caribbean to grow the cane, and brought to New York to process it into sugar, thus supplying and maintaining a huge production system.

The captivating attraction of this sculpture drew thousands of visitors during it’s run, want to pose with the behemoth work, with smiling and gawking faces much to the dismay of New York City African Americans that saw the insensitivity of those drawn to the evocative work. 

Controversy surely may not have been the intention of Kara Walker, but opening a means of enlightenment on a sad note to bygone era was made palatable enough.

The Article for this summary can be read here in Art America

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