BAHM: 2.17.17 Kara Walker
Kara Walker is a New York based artist working in multimedia installation to explore gender, sexuality and race in the antebellum South. Born in Stockton, CA but raised in Atlanta, GA, Walker received her BFA from Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her MFA from RISD in 1994. Shortly after, she was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship in 1997. She has since exhibited internationally, including the 2002 Bienal de São Paulo, and a major survey exhibit, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love (2007), which traveled to Paris, New York, Los Angeles and Fort Worth, TX.
In spring of 2014, Walker produced her first large scale public work in Williamsburg, a massive, sphinx-like sculpture made of sugar and aptly titled, A Subtlety: Or…the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant. The piece reflects on the violent history of sugar production. In 2015, Walker produced a site-specific show, Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First, at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. The centerpiece, a black silhouette scene made of cut paper in Walker’s typical fashion and titled, The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin, depicts gruesome scenes of historical reference mixed with horrific imaginary. The cut paper installation is placed next to wall-sized photograph in collaboration with photographer and filmmaker, Ari Marcopoulos. The photograph depicts Stone Mountain in Northern Georgia, a large granite monolith with a bas-relief carving of Confederate leaders on horseback. This sight was proclaimed as the spiritual home of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 and referenced in MLK’s 1963 speech, I Have a Dream. The show also features paintings that center on the Four Idioms on Negro Art, including Folk, Primitivism and Graffiti. The show, as a whole, speaks to the scars of racial violence and deceiving historical narratives that shape the psyche of identity construction in the South.
The Guardian Article: Kara Walker: 'There is a moment in life where one becomes black'