Sugar Series

“…Outlaw utilizes sugar’s simultaneous strangeness as an art material and familiarity as a foodstuff—its tidal wave of associations and its seeming blankness—to its best effect: sweetness and decay are married.” — Excerpt from Andrew Alexander’s review in Burnaway, July 18, 2014

“… one sees first beautifully abstracted images in a refreshing white, accentuated with agreeably grainy textures. … however, subtly sinister imagery emerges, undercutting the snowy brilliance …. Gradually the freighted underpinning of the installation comes into focus: sugar, from which the works are made, is the cause not only of physical and emotional addictions, but also of historical atrocities, especially the slave trade. Like Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal, sweets ensnare the psyche with their delectability, entrapping users and ultimately destroying them.”  —  Excerpt from Dorothy Joiner’s review for World Sculpture News, V 20, #4, 2014.

“… Crown, Flow and PET, all of 2016, are made of sprinklings of sugar which adhere to cast acrylic layers and are illuminated by white LED lights. Clumped pools of sugar lay miraculously and in all their crystalline beauty upon slabs of thick, clear acrylic: the crystals are sometimes added to one side, sometimes to both. These have been stacked one on top of the other at specific yet tiny intervals, so that the viewer, upon looking at the slices and slivers, begins to discern a representation in the coalescing of layers – rendered through the impasto of sugar crystals – of a scan of a human brain. The scans are cross-sections from the top down, such that the viewer seems to be looking at a kind of computer screen upon which is displayed a particular slice of a brain scan, apparently stimulated and then depicted by the same sugar crystals out of which the image is formed and which captures and refracts the ambient light of the LEDs in the surrounding frame.  —  Excerpt from Naomi Ruth Pitamber’s text for Slices exhibit at University of Wyoming, 9/16

For this series I use sugar as an entry point for a better understanding of global labor and social economies, the peril of excess and the capacity of the individual. For much of modern history, sugar was a luxury. In the 18th century, as production methods were refined, it created vast wealth, grew a huge and horrific slave trade and dramatically shifted global eating habits. In her book Sugar in the Blood, Andrea Scott argues that this white crystal even birthed racism. As we now know, it significantly contributes to the global obesity epidemic, sorely serving as a visual reminder of the widening gap between rich and poor.

View the Slices brochure. View the Sweet Demise catalog. Watch videos.