Walker is known for her poignant works that expose issues of race and colonialism, often by using stereotypes as a way for her audience to relate to her message. For this exhibition, she has taken over Williamsburg’s Domino Sugar Refining Plant, an iconic structure built in 1882 and shut down in 2004. Creative Time has been staging artistic endeavors in the empty building as it awaits its redevelopment into a mixed-use waterfront residential complex.
The Sugar Sphinx is modeled after a caricature of an African-American woman and appears naked, crouching forward, and coated with sugar. Her enormous limbs are surrounded by masses of granulated sugar, which visitors can walk around as they admire her. Encircling the sculpture around the factory halls are other works, which has already begun to melt on opening day. The series of young boy figures, each holding baskets filled with paraphernalia related to sugar refinery, appear to be coated in dark molasses that gently drips in pools onto the factory floor.
Walker’s powerful pieces evoke the controversial history of sugar and its deep link to slavery in the US, as well as more modern issues such as corporate greed and unfair working conditions. The exhibition is free and open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through July 6, 2014.