Kara Walker is a contemporary American artist whose diverse work draws upon the intersection of historical and contemporary notions of race, gender, and sexuality.
Her use of silhouetted figures adds a haunting element to the messages depicted, simultaneously creating a racialized imagination of a shared past and present.
This article will feature Walker’s ‘The Creation of African America.’
“I started this work with the silhouettes with the express project to make a Black woman’s art. The Black woman and me, the Negress and myself. Sort of one and the same and completely separate. It’s born partly out of just the experience of my body as it’s moved through the world, and the bodies it’s come in contact with. The kind of residual racism, residual psychosis, residual misogyny of the world.” —Kara WalkerThe Broad
8 Possible Beginnings or: The Creation of African-America, a Moving Picture by Kara E. Walker
These images have been selected from Kara Walker’s moving picture
Kara Walker 8 Possible Beginnings or: The Creation of African-America, a Moving Picture by Kara E. Walker [still], 2005 Video (B&W, audio) 15:36 minutes © Kara Walker, courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. and Sprüth Magers
The story connotates the history of the slave trade in America; the silhouettes operate against a historical backdrop of oppression, power, and sexuality
Walker creates tableaus that stage alternative episodes from the African-American experience. She revisits the historical institution of slavery with eight starkly uncensored vignettes. At times silent, accompanied by minstrel music, and offset by the recorded voice of the artist’s young daughter, these episodes depict a terrain dominated by the wrenching violence of the unexpected.Bowdoin College Museum of Art
The piece is a complex yet simplistic opportunity for Walker to depict a landscape that has and continues to infiltrate the lives of people of color. The medium of contemporary art assists in delivering an effective and provoking piece.