After Paris, New York and Los Angeles, the first full-scale American museum survey of the work of artist Kara Walker (b. 1969, Stockton, California) is on view in Texas. The controversial but fascinating show features works ranging from her signature black-paper silhouettes to film animations to more than 100 works on paper.
Kara Walker is among the most complex and prolific American artists of her generation. Over the past decade, she has gained national and international recognition for her room-size tableaux depicting historical narratives haunted by sexuality, violence, and subjugation but made using the genteel 18th-century art of cut-paper silhouettes. Set in the American South before the Civil War, Walker’s compositions play off stereotypes to portray, often grotesquely, life on the plantation, where masters and mistresses and slave men, women, and children enact a subverted version of the past in an attempt to reconfigure their status and representation. Walker's art tends to evoke strong reactions or utter silence on the part of the viewer.
Over the years the artist has used drawing, painting, light projections, writing, shadow puppetry, and, most recently, film animation to narrate her tales of romance and oppression, desire and sexuality, power and liberation. These scenarios thwart conventional readings of a cohesive national history and expose the collective and ongoing psychological injury caused by the tragic legacy of slavery. That said, in some instances, Walker's work reveals more about Walker's own psychic constellation and perceptions relative to America's odious history of slavery and racism than it does about guilt, desire, fear, race and class in contemporary America. Still, as an examination of racial and gender stereotypes that continue to haunt the American psyche, the show is a must. “The black subject in the present tense is the container for specific pathologies from the past.” says the artist, “and it is continuously growing and feeding off those maladies.”
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Web Site