Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power

Untitled (Scene #18 from Emancipation Approximation portfolio), © 1999–2000, Kara Walker

African/American, © 1998, Kara Walker

Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power

January 25, 2014 to April 06, 2014


Kara Walker is one of the most successful and widely known contemporary African American artists today; she is remarkable for her radical engagement with issues of race, gender, and sexuality and the media with which she pursues her studies. Though mainly celebrated for her provocative installations, composed of cut-paper silhouettes, Walker’s work in other media is equally strong and expands on the many powerful themes and questions of her practice. Drawn from Jordan Schnitzer’s collection, the exhibition includes several of Walker’s large-scale print series, cut-steel sculptures, a wall painting, and a video.  The works selected display the range of approaches Walker has taken to exploring the legacy of slavery for contemporary American identity.   “Emancipating the Past” is organized by the JSMA and curated by Jessi DiTillio, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the JSMA, and an alumna of University of Oregon’s graduate program in the History of Art and Architecture.

Support for the exhibition and related educational and outreach programs has been made possible by a grant from the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Coeta and Donald Barker Special Exhibitions Endowment, The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and JSMA members.

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