During my trip to the Museum of the City of New York, I visited many different exhibits that had caught my interest. Three of those exhibits that most interested me were the Crochet Mandala, the Sugar Baby, and the Drawing Cart. These three exhibits also all happened to be within the same area and were all focused on different aspects of the expression of New York City’s culture through the form of art. While each exhibit used a different style of medium to portray this idea, all of these seemed to deliver a strong message in my perspective.
The first exhibit that I noticed was the Crochet Mandala. What I learned about this exhibit was that it was inspired by a previous mosaic project before it. The artist that made this piece, who was an expert in textile art, was designing this piece to be displayed at a new subway station. After this piece was woven together using fiber, yarn, and beads, the work was then recreated alongside mosaic artisan Stephen Miotto to make a version of this piece that was made out of glass tiles. When asked, the artist Xenobia Bailey mentioned that the inspiration behind the design of her textile piece was from what she calls “the aesthetic of funk” and “a funky, chic, urban household type aesthetic.”
The next exhibit that caught my eye was the Sugar Baby. This exhibit was created by Kara Walker and was actually part of a much larger exhibit. The piece was made using polyester resin and covered in layers of molasses and brown sugar to give it its color. Before being displayed in the museum, it was placed in a warehouse alongside many other versions of itself. However, all of these figures were only present to emphasize on the true main focal figure, the gigantic, 30-ton statue made of sugar known as The Sugar Sphinx. The main focus of the exhibit was to highlight on the history of slavery and degradation that many New York City residents had to bear throughout history.
The last exhibit I saw within that area was the Drawing Cart. This exhibit was created by Rudy Shepherd when he was challenged to create an art piece that merged his professional and personal lifestyles together. So then Rudy decided to get a wooden cart on his home block that he would use to draw his art on. During this process, he would also invite passing bystanders to draw on his cart as well. Most were reluctant, but a few did stay and make nice conversation as make their mark on the cart as well. So in the end, the Drawing Cart project ended up becoming a collaborative work featuring the art of Rudy Shepherd as well as his neighborhood, thus showing that art can be used to help tie a community closer together.