Freedom: A Fable

Kara Elizabeth Walker

Kara Walker (1969 - ) was born in Stockton, California. She is a painter and printmaker who has attracted attention for her disarming, yet caustic narratives of 19th-century slavery and African American history. She earned a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. She currently lives in Providence and recently received a prestigious John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award. Her best known works are mural black paper cutouts based on 19th-century models of portrait silhouettes examining the gruesome paradoxes of institutionalized slavery in American history. They conjure up phantasmagoric narratives, farcical in tone of an antebellum South in which blacks, often women and children are both victims of and participants in scenes of degradation. Her imagery is derived, in part from research, but is also influenced by memorabilia collected by the black middle class. Walker has shown nationally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Villa de Paris in France. She was also included in the 1997 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial.

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