Hello lovely readers of my blog! Welcome back to Gallimaufry Bliss. It has been awhile, but I am excited to get back into the groove of blogging. I have adventured and discovered a lot since I last wrote, so I plan to gradually tell my latest stories through my upcoming posts. Thanks for reading!! I moved to New York City in the beginning of April and have been working as an intern with Creative Time, an arts organization committed to public art. It has been an incredible/overwhelming/exhausting/inspiring/unique experience thus far. Not many interns can say that they learned how to operate a forklift in their second week on the job. But now I can. After working on the computer in the pristine and modern Creative Time office for about a week and a half, I was sent to get my hands dirty at the old Domino Sugar Factory in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn—the site of Creative Time’s current project with artist Kara Walker. I first arrived at the factory along the Hudson in my “working clothes” (jeans, a t-shirt, and a jean jacket), but was surprised and grateful to find that even more apparel was necessary for the job. Before I knew it, I was adorned in a bright yellow waterproof jumpsuit and matching hardhat, heavy-duty rain boots, and equally bright blue gloves. What kind of job would require such specific and seemingly over-protective clothing? Art, of course!
I had the pleasure of joining the installation team for Kara Walker’s latest work “A Subtlety: 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.” The piece, a giant sculpture covered in white Domino-brand refined sugar, was already sculpted and ready to be covered in several layers of sugar. My outfit would (hopefully) keep most of the superglue-sticky sugar-water coating from seeping onto my skin. Since that first day, for the last week and a half, I have been coating the foam-based sculpture in layers and layers of sugar. I can’t help but compare the work I’m doing to the stories of Christmas elves working in their workshops: we literally mix sugar in concrete mixers, spray sugar through hoses, and walk around New York City after a day’s work covered in sugar (all while molasses drips everywhere around us). Kara’s sculpture nearly reaches the ceiling beams in the old factory, a particularly interesting a charged location for her installation. When traditional operations of the factory seized in 2004, sugar was left everywhere and much of it remains in the factory today.
When the crew first arrived at the site, they had to spend several days to just get the first sticky molasses off the floor. Several of the buildings in the Domino complex have already been torn down to make way for a future construction of housing for ever-growing Brooklyn. It’s likely that Kara’s installation will be the last bit of life in the corpse of a once very-much alive factory complex. Everyday at the factory is different—I go from sugar coating to administrative work to operating a genie lift. That’s what I really love about it—the limitless potential of the unexpected is entrancing. Read more about Kara Walker’s piece at the Domino Sugar Factory here. Beyond my work with Creative Time, I have been exploring the city with fresh eyes and different outlooks. Living in the city that never sleeps is a lot different from visiting. It’s not better or worse, just different. Days fly by where I learn so many things about life, living, being in a city, and getting from place to place yet I don’t even realize how much I’m learning. I, and this city are sucked right into the craziness and spontaneity of life. A year ago, I never would have dreamed to be doing what I’m doing now–several times today I was suspiciously asked “are you a construction worker?!?!” during my commute to and from work with my hard hat. I just smile, nod, give a thumbs-up and keep on walking. I can’t stop laughing about the absurdity of life. I have been eating lots and lots of yummy food and seeing some really good performances, but that is a whole ‘nother (several) blog post to come! Love love love (and hugs), Hannah Priscilla