Sugar Sphinx: Kara Walker’s ‘A Subtlety’

Kara Walker’s ‘A Subtlety,’ a seventy-five and a half feet long and thirty-five and a half feet tall sphinx made in part of bleached sugar, is displayed at the former Domino Sugar Refinery in the Williamsburg neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The show is free to the public and will run until July 6th.

Leading up to the factory on a hip yet quiet section of Williamsburg, is a staggering crowd of people excited to see what the fuss is all about. After getting into the pre-war manufacturing machine, others and I went into a silence because a piece of history hit us at our first breath.

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As you walk through, there are sculptures of small children made of dark sugar cane. A few of the children have literally fallen, broken, and shattered onto the floor of this once thriving factory. You can then get a sense of where the artist was trying to give you a piece of the sadly dramatic mood it once held when the Domino Factory was still in operation.

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The latter end of the exhibition was taken up by what people called “Big Mommy”…. All made of white crystal sugar (Pictured Below). It was one of the most structurally mature pieces of art that I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes.

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