Kara Walker's 'A Subtlety' Gets Major Media Attention

July 9, 2014

In late spring of 2014, Creative Time presented the first large-scale public project by Visual Arts Program faculty member Kara Walker. Sited in the sprawling industrial relics of Brooklyn’s legendary Domino Sugar Factory, Walker created a physically and conceptually expansive installation—a massive, sugar-coated sphinx. The artist gave this work a title that is at once poetic and descriptive:A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.
The sphinx is made of 330 foam blocks, carved to fit perfectly together by Digital Atelier and a group of sculptors on site. The body, once puzzled in place, was then covered with 35 tons of white sugar. The result is a 35-foot high and 75-foot long woman.
The New York Times recently called A Subtlety, "One of the most substanstial works of art to hit New York in Years." Walker's exhibit was only on display for a few short weeks from May to July.
Kara Walker is best known for her cut-paper silhouettes and tableaus that depict and complicate traditional narratives of power and repression. Frequently the subject of controversy, Walker’s provocative work, which has taken the form of drawing, painting, text-based work, video, film, performance, and cyclorama, retells historic events, such as slavery in the Antebellum South and Hurricane Katrina. Walker has received numerous awards, perhaps most notably in 1997, when she was the second-youngest person ever to receive a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.”