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Kara Walker was born on this date in 1969. She is a Black artist who explores race, gender, sexuality, and identity.
She was born in Stockton, CA. Her father was a painter and a teacher. Walker's education includes a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) at Rhode Island School of Design in painting/printmaking and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in painting/printmaking at Atlanta College of Art.
She began exhibiting in 1991 in Atlanta, GA. Walker's exhibitions have been held at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Walker has also been shown internationally and featured in Media.
Walker's silhouette images bridge unfinished folklore in Antebellum South, raising identity and gender issues for Black women. Because of her truthful approach to the topic, Walker's nightmarish yet fantastical images incorporate a horrifying cinematic feel. She uses images from historical works to show how white America depicted African slaves during slavery.
Some of her images are almost grotesque; for example, in "The Battle of Atlanta," a white man, presumably a Southern soldier, is raping a Black girl while her brother watches in shock; in another, a white child is about to insert his sword into a nearly-lynched black woman's vagina, and a male Black slave rains tears all over an adolescent white boy.
Her work has been seen internationally in exhibitions such as La Belle et La Bête; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1995); Conceal/Reveal at SITE Santa Fe; New Histories, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston (1996); no place (like home), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1997); Global Vision: New Art from the ’90s, Deste Foundation, Athens; Secret Victorians, Contemporary Artists, and a 19th-Century Vision, Hayward Gallery for the Arts Council of England, London (1998), which also appeared at Armand Hammer Museum of Art, Los Angeles (1999); and Other Narratives, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (1999).
Numerous solo shows of Walker's work have been presented, including those at Wooster Gardens/Brent Sikkema, New York (1995, 1996, and 1998); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1997); California College of Arts and Crafts; and Oliver Art Center, Oakland (1999). In 1997, Walker received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant.
Walker has participated in numerous national and international exhibitions. Some solo museum shows include The Hanover Kunstverien (2002), The Deutsche Guggenheim (2002), the University of Michigan Museum of Art (2002), and The Tang Museum/Williams College Museum (2003). Most recently, a book accompanied each exhibition, Narratives of a Negress (MIT Press). Recently her work was seen in the Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanee, Rome (Fall 2003). She has exhibited at the Tate Liverpool (2004) and the Walker Art Center (2005). Walker lives in New York and is on the MFA program faculty at Columbia University.
Narratives of a Negress
Edited by Ian Berry, Darby English, Vivian Patterson, and Mark Reinhardt