Creativity 50

Creativity 50 2014: Kara Walker


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Kara Walker
Kara Walker Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Arguably the most talked-about piece of public art to make its debut this year was Kara Walker's formally titled "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 massive installation, presented by Creative Time at the Domino sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was a 35-foot-tall and 75-foot-long sphinx-like character made with 30 tons of white sugar.

It was, like much of Ms. Walker's art, made for controversy. With its exaggerated female body parts and caricatured black facial features, the installation was, as described by the artist, a monument to the slave trade, the sugar industry and how the two were intertwined, as well as a testament to diet and how much sugar we ingest. It was called everything from empowering to demeaning. It sparked conversation about people's responses to the piece -- chiefly, the countless selfies taken in front of it, which ranged from couples making out to others pretending to grab the pendulous breasts. Lines that were blocks long formed to see the piece, and some 100,000 viewers saw the free installation.

Many artists can only hope they produce work that garners as much attention as "A Subtlety" did this summer, and the piece has left art fans wondering what Ms. Walker will do next.

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