From Black Voices — Kara Walker has never been one to shy away from controversy, and as her latest work will attest, the artist is not afraid to make audiences uncomfortable either. With two shows running concurrently in New York City — ‘Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale’ at Lehmann Maupin Gallery; ‘Dust Jackets for the Niggerati- and Supporting Dissertations, Drawing Submitted Ruefully by Dr. Kara E. Walker’ at Sikemma Jenkins & Co – Walker is once again flooring audiences with pieces that bring to mind the country’s difficult history with slavery and racism.

At Lehmann Maupin, the exhibit centers on a 17-minute shadow puppet narrative about Miss Pipi, a white Southern woman who lures one of her husband’s slaves into a tryst, though the young man attempts to resist. “Of the videos I’ve done, I’ve never focused or thought about the mythology around the white Southern female body,” said Walker, who has incorporated film or video into her shows since 2004. “I was thinking about that caricature of white feminine purity, added to that, scenes of sexuality, desire, co-optation, love and the ease with which the body and all of those kind of goals can be destroyed.”

The word “destroyed” is an apt description of what happens to all of the characters lives in the film. It is classic Walker – heart wrenching, eye opening and honest.

The Lehmann exhibit runs concurrently with Walker’s show at the Sikkema Jenkins & Co gallery. There, Walker shows a vast, 43-piece collection of graphite works on paper and hand-printed texts, a comic book-esque tale of black identity and the journey from its rural roots in America to the “New Negro” identity in urban areas.

For Walker, both shows are consistent with her reputation as an artist who shocks-and-awes her audience, and who holds nothing back when she tackles difficult subjects such as womanhood and racism.

 

(Continue Reading @ Black Voices…)

19 Comments

  1. if you do not like Kara’s artwork, don’t like it. but do not reduce it to “fluff” or “boring. not only does that oversimplify her artwork and art overall, but it also seems to lack any legitimate criticism.
    while many of us (people of color) may know these themes, and understand the extent at which rape, molestation and miscegenation went in during the slavery eras, it is still not tackled at the level she tackles it. public schools almost never discuss the frequency of rape and molestation done by white men to black women. very few artists have even attempted to place the black woman as the recurring character as much as Kara Walker. yes, her artwork has been featuring slavery for some time now, but she is one of the (if not THE) ONLY artists doing this.

    and i would have to disagree that this type of revealing artwork is only new to white people. maybe you and your boogie friends who have the time to go to exhibit after exhibit and are academically educated know about this history and artwork, but i seriously doubt that the majority of Americans know the extent at which these types of things went on during slavery.

    and “tackling race and slavery” is far from being a “dead horse” @ Minna K. the only situation that would render that topic a “dead horse” is if the topic itself were a dead horse. many of the inner workings of slavery have only recently come to the surface and the issue of race and racism is alive and well. being a black person in the US is not negated when one becomes an artist. their art is from their perspective. and to act as if black artists need to move beyond that, when our society (and thus individual experiences) has yet to do so seems ludicrous.

    on another note, theres plenty of black artists that speak to the black experience aside from Wangechi Mutu and Kehinde Wiley – Kerry James Marshall, Michael Ray Charles, Carrie Mae Weems, Mickalene Thomas, and Robert Pruitt.

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  2. Joshua

    @ E.C. take a look at Martin Puryear.

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