Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   Chakaia Booker

Sugar in my Bowl, 2012, 2012, Rubber Tires and Stainless Steel


Sugar in my Bowl, 2012

Completion Date:



Rubber Tires and Stainless Steel


97.5' x 118' x 62'


Weeksville Heritage Center


1696 Bergen Street


Caples Jefferson Architects PC

Sponsor Agency:

Department of Cultural Affairs

Design Agency:

Department of Design and Construction


2005 Excellence in Design, Art Commission of the City of New York

Nina Simone’s "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" captivated me. My initial response was about the likelihood of relationship - with oneself, one's community and beyond. Sugar used metaphorically in the title "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" denotes various uses of the term. The work explores interpretations, meanings and ideas - free from the strictures of social demands, sugar symbolizes self-fulfillment and acceptance, and it suggests social acceptance - “the icing on the cake.” At the same time it involves control, personal and social - internal and external control - satisfaction of unmet needs. This involves the cultivation - spiritually, culturally, economically, politically, and sexually – of personal and social issues and extends to community, and, ultimately, to the universe.


To be able to distinguish one's own preservation and morality can be a difficult task. Sugar In My Bowl II suggests an ambiguous state. It can symbolize a stable or unstable polarity of existence, suggesting layered conditions of powerlessness - saturation. Sugar can be seen as empty calories; something that depletes and leaches life’s sustenance. A stable state of existence can be seen in the creation and growth of a community such as the Weeksville community, with the evolution of families and community institutions such as churches, schools and local government.


Sugar's outer core of spike-root-like suckles render the allusion of either an inflow or outflow of nutrient-like tentacles or tree roots. The oval shaped form of Sugar In My Bowl resembles a vessel like the human body. The internal structure canvassed with hollow nodule forms attached to the surface suggests female eggs and the male sperm, for the reproduction of family and the reproduction of families into communities. One must acknowledge the need for individual and social creativity, for family, for community - for this "sugar" to be free.


(from an email from Chakaia Booker to Charlotte Cohen on December 2, 2003)

About the Artist...
Since the early 1990s, Chakaia Booker has worked almost exclusively with rubber tires. Through a physically demanding process of twisting, slicing and weaving found rubber tires (primarily from bikes, cars and farm equipment), she forms dynamic, whimsical sculptures that fuse ecological concerns with questions about racial and economic differences, globalization, and sociopolitical power structures.   Booker was included in the Whitney Biennial, 2000, and her awards include an Arts and Letters award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fellowship for Fine Arts from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.