By: Erika Camilli
Some Facts on Kara Walker:
• Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969.
• She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994.
• The artist is best known for exploring the connection between race, gender, and humor through her iconic silhouetted figures. • Walker’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. • Walker currently lives in New York where she is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University.
• Since that time, she has created more than 30 room-size installations and hundreds of drawings and watercolors, and has been the subject of more than 40 solo exhibitions. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award (1997) and, most recently, the Deutsche Bank Prize (2004) and the Larry Aldrich Award (2005). • She was the United States representative for the 25th International São Paulo Biennial in Brazil (2002).
More fun facts about Kara Walker:
Influence: “One of my earliest memories involves sitting on my dad‟s lap in his studio in the garage of our house and watching him draw. I remember thinking: „I want to do that, too,‟ and I pretty much decided then and there at age 2½ or 3 that I was an artist just like Dad.”
• Race • Power • Narrative • Humor • Collision of Fact and Fiction • Story telling
• “Most [of my] pieces have to do with exchanges of power, attempts to steal power away from others.” — Kara Walker
• Kara draws her silhouettes directly onto the wall in which she is working • She later goes back and hand cuts them out leaving what is left on the walls using adhesive. • She uses overhead projectors to incorporate light with her pieces. It forces the viewer to become a part of the story upon entering, displaying their own shadow on the walls
Why use projections?
“I knew for a while that I wanted to make a piece that tried to engage the space a little bit more directly then the pieces that are just cut paper on the wall. And I had been using the overhead projectors as a kind of a shadow play tool. Not really as a tool for making the work—they’re usually hand drawn. But I wanted to activate the space in a way and have these overhead projectors serve as a kind of stand-in for the viewer, as observers. And my thinking about the overhead projectors connected with my thinking about painting as far as creating an illusion of depth, but in a very mundane, flat, almost didactic way.”
Why use projections cont.
"...I wanted to activate the space in a way and have these overhead projectors serve as a kind of stand-in for the viewer, as observers." "Projections came about as one of a series of steps. It’s an easy answer to the idea of projecting. Projecting one’s desires, fears, and conditions onto other bodies, which all of my work has tried to engage with using the silhouette. And it also created a space where the viewer’s shadow would also be projected into the scene so that maybe they would, you know, become captured and implicated in a way that is very didactic. Overhead projectors are a didactic tool, they’re a schoolroom tool. So they’re about conveying facts. The work that I do is about projecting fictions into those facts."
Kara Walker on being an artist:
“I knew that if I was going to make work that had to deal with race issues, they were going to be full of contradictions. Because I always felt that it's really a love affair that we've got going in this country, a love affair with the idea of it [race issues], with the notion of major conflict that needs to be overcome and maybe a fear of what happens when that thing is overcome-And, of course, these issues also translate into [the] very personal: Who am I beyond this skin I'm in?”
• What stories do you see when you look at Kara Walker’s work? • What do her silhouettes remind you of? • What kind of story would you tell through your silhouettes? • What kind of issues would you bring out in your stories? • Who/What are your influences?
(n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2009, from http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/walker/clip1.html# (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://learn.walkerart.org/karawalker (n.d.). Retrieved September 23, 2009, from http://www.whitney.org/www/exhibition/kara_walker/links.html (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2009, from http://aim.search.aol.com/search/image?query=kara+walker&page=9&s_cs =-9072155615768088496&s_dc=20
• (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://eastcoastwestcoastart.wetpaint.com/page/Kara+Walker