Kara Walker

19 Oct 2015


Kara Walker

Born in 1969, California, USA Lives and works in New York, NY Education M.F.A. – Rhode Island School of Design, June, 1994. B.F.A. – Atlanta College of Art, May, 1991.

Often provocative and humorous, Kara Walker’s work explores the tensions and power plays of racial and gender relations. Walker’s work engages with historical narratives, particularly the experience of African Americans in the antebellum American south, and the ways in which these stories have been suppressed, distorted and falsified.

Drawing from art historical and literary sources, she creates and deconstructs scenarios that expose biases and prejudices, exploring the power struggles underlying personal and political relationships. Her work proposes alternative mythologies, and new ways of engaging with traumatic historical material. Walker is best known for her room-sized tableaux of cut paper silhouettes attached directly to the wall. She also works in painting, drawing and text-based work, and in recent years her practice has expanded to include light projections, film and video. One of her primary motifs is the silhouette, a visual form that has historically been associated with simplistic or exaggerated imagery, particularly caricatures. Walker uses this decorative style to create complex and sophisticated narratives, emphasizing and undermining the ways in which images and narratives can be subject to stereotyping.

Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969. She currently lives and works in New York. In the summer of 2015 the artist directed staging, set and costume design for a production of Norma at Teatro La Fenice, Venice, a special project commissioned by Okwui Enwezor to coincide with the 56th Venice Biennale. Creative Time presented in 2014 the artist’s large-scale public project A Subtletly at the Domino Sugar Factory, New York; in the same year, Walker curated the group exhibiton Ruffneck Constructivists at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Recent major solo exhibitions include presentations at the Camden Arts Centre, London (2013); Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw (2011); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2011); Cincinnati Art Museum (2010); Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga (2008); and Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle (2008). In 2007-2008 the artist was the subject of the major retrospective Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth. Her work is in the collections of major museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Tate, London; Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome and Mudam, Luxembourg. Walker received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1997, the Deutsche Bank Prize in 2000, and the United States Artists Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008.


Her work is very powerful with it’s mix of politics and social comment often with a humourous twist.  Immaculately produced.  Reminds me of some of the work of William Kentridge.