Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spotlight: Kara Walker

So I feel badly about the fact that I have been slacking a little bit, and didn't post on Monday or Tuesday.  I also haven't written any other posts besides the (ideally) daily "Spotlight" and "Quotes".  But I intend to fix both of these issues, and get down to business...if only I didn't have to work so much, and could just concentrate on writing this blog!  But I digress...
Today's Spotlight is on the contemporary artist Kara Walker, whose work I enjoy very much.  I have always been interested in race relations and the issues surrounding racism in our country, and these are topic with which Kara Walker contends in her pieces.  I saw a large retrospective of her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York in 2007, and was enamored with her simple black-and-white cutouts pasted on the walls.  They were at once theatre and funny, as well as serious and thorny.

Walker primarily creates cut paper silhouettes, as well as drawings, films, and collages.  They offer questions without answers, and place the blame for racism on everyone.  A review of the 2007 show by Ariella Budick on says about Walker, "Her work is neither anti-black or anti-white; it is broadly misanthropic.  Both groups, as far as she is concerned, have forgone their claims to nobility or integrity.  Walker scoffs at the notion of progress.  To her, the distortions in self-image wrought by slavery's power relations have been completely internalized by both groups, which remain helpless in the face of history."
Her work has come under fire in the past, mainly from the black community, who feel she misrepresents black people, catering towards wealthy white buyers and perpetuating racial stereotypes.  On the contrary, as Budick also points out in her review, Walker's work challenges all races and members of our global community to realize, through embarrassment, the ways we rely on as much as detest racism; and furthermore, how history has led us to this point.

You can see Kara Walker's work in person at galleries all over the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post. I visited one of her exhibitions at Mass MOCA and appreciate your description of her work, "theatrical, funny, serious and thorny." I will add my own visceral reaction, "mesmerizing and uncomfortable"...