Alícia Rius’ Striking Photos Showcase The Disturbing Beauty Of Sphinx Cats

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Los Angeles-based photographer Alícia Rius captures the beauty of sphynx cats in her dramatic series aptly titled Sphynxes. Placed against a stark black background, the photos highlight the incredible characteristics of the fur-lacking animals. Where their coat would normally cover up folded skin and birth marks, here we see it all. And, we get a sense of just how simultaneously fragile and powerful these small creatures are. If they sit a certain way, it shows every bone in their spine. Muscle definition, prominent cheekbones, and their impressive claws are all visible in ways you wouldn’t see from other breeds of cats.

Sphynxes were developed through selective breeding in the 1960s, and it’s not everyday that you see one. Especially on the Internet, it seems that fluffy cats are shared over and over again. But, through Ruis’ stunning photographs, she proves that these felines have their own type of ominous-yet-regal beauty.

Ruis’ Disturbing Beauty Of Sphynx Cats is an ongoing project. If you have a Sphynx and live in Los Angeles, please contact her at [email protected] and include a photo of your cat to be considered. Find out more on her Facebook and follow along on Instagram.

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Kara Walker’s Gigantic Sugar-Coated Female Sphinx Makes A Powerful Statement

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Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.

The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.

Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)

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