In Kara Walker’s art, the present is defined by the past and the past exerts a savage power. For more than two decades, Walker has been making work that weaves together nostalgia for an imagined history, the brutality of slavery, and racist stereotypes. She is best-known for her use of the cut-paper silhouette, transforming the genteel eighteenth-century portrait medium into stark tableaux haunted by brutality and subjugation. An African American woman, Walker plays with the idea of “misrepresenting misrepresentations,” stating that “the whole gamut of images of black people, whether by black people or not, are free rein in my mind.” The results have stirred controversy for their negative portrayal of African Americans and their history, and have made her one of the most complex and recognized artists of her generation.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Smithsonian American Art Museum