Kara Walker

(b. 1968)

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(1968– )

American artist, born in Stockton, California. Her father, LarryWalker (1935– ), is a painter. Kara Walker is one of the most controversial American artists of her generation because of her provocative treatment of race and gender, especially in her addressing of the historical legacy of slavery in the American South. Her work frequently depicts acts of violence and sex, using the silhouette technique, a craft associated with middle-class ladies in the 19th century, although the actual imagery relates to the continued evocation of slavery in pornographic literature. Reproductions give only a partial idea of the disturbing impact of the works when they are displayed as large-scale installations in a gallery setting, creating an illusory space which implicates the viewer. Part of the disquiet engendered by her art is surely the strong sense of residual anger speaking through the apparent Postmodern irony of the practice.

Further Reading

G. DuBois Shaw, Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker (2004)

Subjects: Art.

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