SUGARLAND

SugarLand is a body of work that looks at the labor involved in harvesting and producing sugar. I became interested in the subject two years ago when I saw the sugarcane harvest in the Dominican Republic. Haitian field workers were hand-cutting ‘cana’ with machetes. Oxen teams pulled wooden carts laden with cut sugarcane from fields that stretched into the horizon. A pastoral, Bruegel scene it was not, though the harvest methods are the same as those used in the 15th century. The Haitians live separate from Dominican society in Bateys where the living conditions are barely sustaining. All this exists only a mile or two from ocean resorts as beautiful as anyplace on the planet, with turquoise water and coconut palms growing to the water’s edge. I became curious why the harvest methods were so primitive and social conditions so impoverished. The entire setting of coastal resorts, sugar cane landscape and Haitians workers - all burned an image inside my head that has not left. My art became a measure of my own awareness of the many facets that contribute to the conditions which allow us to have cheap, available sugar. The Dominican Republic and Haiti, the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola, share a violent and complicated history. I began to see that we in the developed world are complicit with hardship conditions like these in the sugar harvest. We no longer have slavery in our country, but we benefit from forced-labor conditions elsewhere. This is not unique to Haitians or to the Dominican republic - the subject is more widespread than that. It’s not a question of having a sweet tooth - it’s showing that sugar is not so simple.

 
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SugarLand (detail), 2011
 
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Sugarland, 2011

Project Row House installation, sugarcane, polished brass tubing

 
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Imperial, 2011

installation at Project Row House, 2011, corrugated tin, $USD
with prismacolor, 22k gilded frames

 
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Imperial (detail), 2011
 
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Too Much Sugar For a Dime, 2010

Soapbox Gallery, Brooklyn

 
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Hispaniola Sugar

2010, 110x22x74", 5lb Domino sugar bags, Haitian, Dominican flags, corrugated steel sheets, steel machete, steel shelf, marble base

 
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Sugar Stack

2011, 41 x 32 x 6", 5lb Domino sugar bags, steel and wood machetes, galvanized metal shelves

 
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Sugar Praxis, 2011

5lb Domino sugar bag, Haitian flag, gilded frame

 
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White Sugar, Brown Sugar, 2010

48x35x5", steel plates, soapstone, 100 lb sugar bags, Haitian, Dominican flags

 
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White Sugar, Brown Sugar 2010

18x3x27", Engraving on 1/4" steel, Haitian, Dominican flags, red pigment

 
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Machete Spirit, 2011

steel wood machete, wooden beads with pigment

 
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Reparation, 2010

86x64x20", corrugated sheets, cotton shirt, $US dolllars, bricks, wood frame, Haitian magnetic flag

 
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Sugar Rack,2010

68x20x41, brass tubing, 5lb Domino sugar bags, plywood

 
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Sugar Rack, 2010

2" brass tubing, hardware, 5lb sugar bags, plywood 68” x 20” x 41"