Artist Feature: Kara Walker
Kara Walker is best known for her large-scale installations made entirely of silhouettes cut from black paper. Her rooms are full of intricate paper tableaux that address race, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, sexuality, and power in America. She questions and disrupts romantic ideas of the American past, and works to uncover the truth of how enslaved people were seen and treated in the Antebellum South. She also works in paint, gouache, video, shadow puppets, and sculpture.
Walker was born in an integrated California suburb in 1969. Her mother was an administrative assistant and her father was an artist and teacher. She was greatly influenced by her father, with some of her earliest memories being of watching her father paint and sketch. When her family relocated to small-town Georgia, Walker experienced culture shock. The racism in Georgia was outright and like nothing she had experienced before. There were even KKK rallies in the town they lived in.
Kara Walker | Art by Kat Sampson
“The silhouette says a lot with very little information, but that’s also what the stereotype does.”
Walker got her MFA at Rhode Island School of Design, which is where she started incorporating race into her artwork. She was hesitant to do so at first, worrying that it would seem “too obvious”. However, Kara Walker’s complex, ambiguous, and knotty examinations of race are laughably far from obvious. They spark deep critical thought, questioning, and discussions from her audiences, wherever they may be exhibited.
In collaboration with Kat Sampson, we present The Not Just Dead White Guys coloring book with 24 vibrant portraits, showcasing diverse artists, both deceased and living. Half are contemporary artists, including Kara Walker, who are shaping the art scene today, while the others are important historical figures. Join us to celebrate their diverse contributions and create a more inclusive art world!
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