Kara Walker’s exhibit, “A Subtlety: Or the Marvelous Sugar Baby”. One word. Powerful. I couldn’t help but feeling emotional when I walked through the shuttered Domino’s sugar factor. I’ve always wanted to sneak into this building to photograph it. I like decaying spaces – there is a beauty in the rust and years past. Today, the space is as it was. Empty and decrepit, except for the intricate sculptures of molasses and refined sugar. Cute little brown boys of holding baskets and sugar cane dot the land scape. Some have broken and melted into a mess of molasses and dirt creating sticky footsteps as observers wander by. The boys have angelic faces, but their pain is hard to over look. They represent the slave labor in the sugar cane fields. They represent that that is imperfect. These brown bodies mark the path to the 75ft tall sugar Sphinx that glistens white in the broken sunlight. It’s refined sugar. It’s white sugar. To some considered pure. It is a commentary on race.
Ms. Walker has written: “Sugar crystallizes something in our American Soul. It is emblematic of all Industrial Processes. And of the idea of becoming white. White Being equated with pure and ‘true’ it takes a lot of energy to turn brown things into white things. A lot of pressure.”