Kara Walker Kara Walker: After the Deluge

ISBN 13: 9780847829811

Kara Walker: After the Deluge

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9780847829811: Kara Walker: After the Deluge

Since she first came to the attention of the art world nearly ten years ago, Kara Walker has become one of the most important artists of her generation. Championed by the art world for her fearless embrace of challenging subject matter, Walker has created a body of work that looks unflinchingly at racial inequality in the United States. Known for her bold images using the traditional silhouette, Walker upends the genteel, Victorian origins of the medium by graphically portraying scenes from the antebellum South to explore the politics of slavery, race, and gender. Inspired by the tragedy that beset the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Walker has created a volume exploring the interconnectedness of the subject of the sea, race, and poverty by juxtaposing examples of her work and historical works from the 19th century. This unique and important book capitalizes on Walker’s deftness at graphic and visceral storytelling, affording the reader a deeply intimate experience of the difficult themes the artist explores.

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About the Author:

Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California. She received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. In 1997, she received the MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney. She is currently on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The storythat has interested me is the story of Muck. At this book's inception, the narrative of Hurricane Katrina had shifted precariously away from the hyperreal horror show presented to the outside world as live coverage of a frightened and helpless populace (relayed by equally frightened and helpless reporters) to a more assimilable legend. Lately, the narrative of the disaster has turned to "security failures," or "the question of race and poverty," or "rebirth." I've heard harrowing anecdotes of survival and humorous tales of rancid refrigerators. And always at the end of these tales, reported on the news, in newspapers, and by word of mouth, always there is a puddle--a murky, unnavigable space that is overcrowded with intangibles: shame, remorse, vanity, morbidity, silence. We tellstories of events to allude to the unspeakable. Rumors and jokes fill in the uncomfortable, antisocial gaps. Vulnerability, failure, panic tell of themselves through careful observation of things like body language and eye contact. I've seen music, dance, and Mardi Gras celebrations activate damaged, closed-off psychic spaces; they provide hope. But what role can the visual arts play in reexamining one of America's greatest social failures? "Not much" is the pessimistic conclusion I came to, followed by a close examination of a line of 8 9 thinking familiar to Blacks, as expressed by my grandmother: "All you have to do in this world is stay Black and die." This phrase sums up multilayered experiences of suppression, resentment, and rage. I have asked the objects in this book to do one more thing. Instead of sitting very still, "staying Black," and waiting to die, I have asked each one to take a step beyond its own borders to connect a series of thoughts together related to fluidity and the failure of containment. This book is not simply about New Orleans or Katrina or waterborne disaster. It is an attempt to understand the subconscious narratives at work when we talk about such an event. I have cobbled together from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection (as well as two works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) and from some of my own work a narrative of fluid symbols in which that fluidity is figurative and sometimes literal. Black life, urban and rural Southern life, is often related as if it were an entity with a shadowy beginning and a potentially heroic future, but with a soul that is crippled by racist psychosis. One theme in my artwork is the idea that a Black subject in the present tense is a container for specific pathologies from the past and is continually growing and feeding off those maladies. Racist pathology is the Muck, aforementioned. In this book's analogy, murky, toxic waters become the amniotic fluid of a potentially new and difficult birth, flushing out of a coherent and stubborn body long-held fears and suspicions.

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