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 Kara Walker  (1969 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: silhouette figures, racial themed work

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Ad Code: 2
Kara Walker
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Known for black paper cutout silhouettes, Kara Walker also does wall texts, and many of her images depict sex, bestiality, and sadism in what is intended as anti-racist parody. She is part of a generation of controversial African-American artists who deals with stereotypical black images in a confrontational way.

One of her prints tilted A Means to an End: A Shadow Drama in Five Acts, was pulled from a show in 1999 at the Detroit Institute of Arts because it was an antebellum plantation scene that offended some of the African-American artists.

In 2002, she was selected to represent the United States at the Sao Paulo Biennial, running from March 23 to June 2nd.

Walker was born in Stockton, California where her father was an art teacher at the University of the Pacific.  When she was 13, she moved with her family to Atlanta, Georgia, where her father became Chair of the Art Department at Georgia State University.  She found the racial boundaries of her new environment very stiffling compared to the open, multi-cultural life she had led before.  She earned her B.F.A. degree at the Atlanta College of Art where she studied painting and printmaking.  She took a year off and then earned an MA at the Rhode Island School of Design, and during that interim time gave much thought to "black womaness."

Walker's cutouts resulted from a Rhode Island School of Design show she entered after she graduated where she was given a 50 foot wall for her artwork.  From rolls of black and white paper on which she drew and cut apart, she created The Emancipation Approximation, a harsh dialogue installation that brought viewers into her challenging social messages.

Kara Walker was the winner of the fourth annual Lucelia Artist Award from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (2004).  An art educator, she joined the faculty of the M.F.A. department at Columbia University.

ARTnews, April 2002
The Smithsonian American Art Museum

These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Kara Walker was awarded the 2005 Larry Aldrich Award which honors an American artist who has had a significant impact on contemporary visual culture in the preceeding three years.

Antiques and the Arts Weekly
, December 23, 2005

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Kara Walker is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Black American Artists

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