Walker, Kara Elizabeth

Walker, Kara Elizabeth,1969–, American artist, b. Stockton, Calif., grad. Atlanta College of Art (B.F.A., 1981), Rhode Island School of Design (M.F.A., 1994). Walker is best known for her large, cut-paper silhouettes resembling friezes or murals; their themes often refer to the violent history of slavery, misogyny, and racism. The paper, usually black or white, is typically attached directly to the gallery walls. Among her well-known early works are Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart (1994) and The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven (1995). With The Emancipation Approximation (1999–2000) she began using color in her work, and Darkytown Rebellion (2000) marked her first use of colored light projections to enhance her cutouts and cast viewers' shadows onto them. She also has used cutouts as puppets in videos that explore her themes. Slavery, sexuality, and the sugar trade were the focus of her A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby (2014), a monumental sphinxlike black woman of sugar that was displayed in a former sugar factory in Brooklyn, N.Y. More recent works mingle history painting, collage, and political cartoon; most trace the legacy of slavery in today's world. Outstanding is the collage and ink mural entitled Christ's Entry into Journalism (2017), with a cast of more than 80 contemporary and historical characters. Awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant in 1997, Walker has been a professor of visual arts at Columbia since 2001.

See G. D. Shaw, Seeing the Unspeakable (2004) and R. Thüring et al., The Ecstasy of St. Kara (2016).

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