History in the painting! More Domino-factory art with serious overtones

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Photo gallery

BETWEEN THE LINES: The mural chronicles the history of the sugar industry and of Williamsburg’s Latino community.
SAY “PAINT!”: Pols and Williamsburg residents gather in front of the stigmata portion of the mural that deals with some dark themes.
KID AND PAINT: A crew of youths was on hand to help out and have fun.
EASY DOES IT: Volunteer Alexandra Barker adds a touch of color to the 200-feet-long piece.

It’s a bittersweet mural piece that’s life.

On the heels of the dismantling of the high-profile Domino Sugar factory art installation by artist Kara Walker, the Williamsburg activist group El Puente has started painting a mural on a construction fence outside the complex. The 200-feet piece deals with similar themes to the epic Walker work, chronicling the exploitative economy behind the sugar industry.

“A history of sugar is a history of slavery,” said Ana O’Keefe, a member of Los Muralistas, the arts arm of El Puente, adding that the painting commissioned by developer Two Trees is no puff piece and also critiques the building-up of Williamsburg. “We wanted it to be an analysis of the development projects that are going in here as well.”

A volunteer day on Friday drew a crowd to the corner of Grand Street and Kent Avenue to help color in the lines, with volunteers of all ages lending a hand. Borough President Adams showed up to tout his support of the project.

“The neighborhood is changing rapidly, and this is sort of a storybook of what happened,” Adams said. “It’s really a powerful statement.”

Los Muralistas recruited 12 high school students to help paint the mural for pay. The students mostly hail from the group’s El Puente Academy school, and they are no slouches, working long hours under the hot sun to get the job done.

Work on the mural began on July 7, and O’Keefe said she expects it to last about six weeks. Because its canvas is on a construction fence outside the factory complex slated for development, the mural won’t be there forever, but O’Keefe said she expects it to stay up for two years.

Updated 11:10 pm, July 7, 2015
Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from Southside, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York says:
At the time of this article, I was an "official" neighborhood tour guide on the history of Williamsburg, especially on the Southside. I am really proud that me, the El Puente Muralistas, the community, and the elected officials took time to essentially contribute to this spectacular project. This was important when this mural was on the sites of one of the biggest redevelopment projects in the City of New york. As a member of the El Puente Muralistas my central, working theme of this mural is "Past, Present, Prediction," through the symbolism of sugar and the Domino Sugar Factory itself. Any comments of what this community did on Friday, July, 18, 2014 will be certainly appreciated.

Best Regards:
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr.
El Puente Muralistas "Official" Neighborhood Tour Guide.
July 19, 2014, 1:50 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!