Derrais Carter’s book The Sugar Shack: A Cultural Life will chronicle the cultural relevance of Ernie Barnes’s iconic 1971 painting The Sugar Shack through its continual distribution and reproduction within Black cultural contexts of art, decor, film, and music. Carter will discuss the effect of the painting on the arrangement of Black living spaces, indicating how space may be used for activities such as stretching out, pouring a drink, playing spades, shouting over dominoes, slow dancing, or gossiping. At its core, Carter’s project is an exploration of how The Sugar Shack has influenced the ways Black people sit with one another, celebrate life, and build enclaves of excitement that exceed the impositions of an outside world.

Derrais Carter is a writer, book artist, and assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. He is the editor of the artists’ book Black Revelry: In Honor of The Sugar Shack (If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be a Part of Your Revolution, 2022) and the author of 33 1/3: Marvin Gaye’s I Want You (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). Carter’s work has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Netherland-America Foundation.