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Kara Walker

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

Artist 4 Kara Walker Auntie Walker's Wall Sampler for Civilians 2013

Kara Elizabeth Walker is an American contemporary painter, silhouettist, print-maker, installation artist, and film-maker who explores race, gender, sexuality, violence, and identity in her work. She is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes.

She has produced video animation, shadow puppets, "magic-lantern" projections, and large-scale sculptural installations. The black and white silhouettes confront the realities of history, while also using the stereotypes from the era of slavery to relate to persistent modern-day concerns these depictions are often through violent and unsettling imagery. Her nightmarish yet fantastical images incorporate a cinematic feel. Walker uses images from historical textbooks to show how African-American slaves were depicted during Antebellum South.

Walker's work pokes holes in the romantic idea of the past—exposing the humiliating, desperate reality that was life for plantation slaves

Walker has said that her work addresses the way Americans look at racism with a "soft focus," avoiding "the confluence of disgust and desire and voluptuousness that are all wrapped up in… racism."

My personal admiration for this artist draws from her story telling ‘innocence’ in her choice of silhouettes and how Walker uses this tool to draw the parallel of how violent her story and history was. Often we focus on issues of race as for an ironic pun as ‘black and white’ but the soft focus and the subtly of hundreds of years of casting races into roles is an active challenge we face in the 21st century. As creators of content on instagram, art, day to day we hold power and responsibility to investigate the past, learn from it and do better.

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