Brooklyn was buzzing with life this weekend and my Love and I decided to join in. I have been looking forward to viewing the Kara Walker Domino exhibit for weeks and finally my waiting had come to an end. All the vibrant street art on our stroll to south street seemed like beautiful coming attractions, peeping our eyes for the joy that lay ahead. The line stretched down four blocks but the wait proved absolutely worth it.
While on line we were approached by a few young ladies, handing out We Are Here. stickers and pamphlets. The individuals of We Are Here. made it their mission to clearly deliver Kara Walkers message properly and with honor. The members gathered on their on accord in no affiliation of the artist Kara Walker or the Creative Time Org., to hand out informative material of the exhibit and bring awareness to the absence of people of color attending the event. I proudly slapped on my sticker in support of their movement and proceeded into the exhibit.
Once inside the old Domino factory we were greeted by small statues of boys made of dark molasses holding large baskets, and different bundles of fruit. The figures represented the harsh labor conditions that were inflicted on slaves during the 16th century sugar trade. They all stood in their lonesome glory, some fallen and broken because of melting due to the summer heat. The ones that had now found a new home broken in pieces on the factory floor provoked many emotions from me. It symbolized the broken bodies of those who were enslaved and forced to work in unbelievable conditions. Battered , torn, pushed to limits we could never imaged to bare.
The gigantic nude sphinx greeted us in all its captivating glory. I looked into the face of a woman that looked familiar… she looked like me. Large lips, wide set nose, high cheek bones. This statue represented a part of my culture that many would like like to tuck away. With her “Aunt Jemima-style” head dress she symbolized the women made to watch over the slave owners children, to cook the food that feed the families that enslaved her people for centuries. Her exaggerated hips, bottom represented not only the overly sexualized stereotypes of black women but the sheer size of her entire body and the ownership of the space she is housed in, displayed the powerful presence the African American woman.
I was captivated by the elegant and deep arch in the sculptures back. I saw the weight of the world, in her curve leading from the top of her shoulders to her back side. The sight of it pulled Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” to mind…