For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2002

Kara Walker: An Abbreviated Emancipation
(from The Emancipation Approximation)

March 9 - May 26, 2002
Museum Apse

Kara Walker
Kara Walker (American, born 1969)
Untitled, 1998
cut paper and adhesive on wall
Capart Collection, Courtesy Brent Sikkema

The University of Michigan Museum of Art has commissioned African-American artist Kara Walker to create a site-specific installation in its Apse - a panoramic frieze in her signature medium, cut-paper silhouettes on a life-size scale. The recipient of the coveted MacArthur Foundation "genius" award in 1997, Walker is arguably the most controversial young African-American artist working today. Her provocative work is alternatively hailed and decried. Her strange and compelling images are pervaded by themes of social power, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. In her images taboos are transgressed, secrets are uncovered. Walker's evocations of an antebellum world are rooted in stereotypes and comment on the system of slavery and its continuing legacy in the American consciousness.

At the Museum of Art Walker will create an extraordinary room-size mural that will surround the viewer, much like cycloramas, the large-scale history paintings in the round that were popular at the end of the last century and just before the advent of the cinema. The placement of this wall piece in the Museum's most imposing space, the Apse - a tall, open gallery, ringed with classical columns - will effectively emphasize the human scale of the figures and heighten the viewer's experience. Just as the antiquated cut-paper technique will create a distant feeling of another era, the neoclassical setting of the Apse will evoke the grand architecture of antebellum Southern plantations.

The Museum is creating, publishing, and arranging for the national distribution of the first first book produced on Kara Walker. This publication is intended to be a companion volume for the site-specific work at the Museum, but will also provide a critical framework for investigating Walker's work.

Annette Dixon
Curator of Western Art

This exhibition has been made possible by Lannan Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Friends of the Museum of Art, Marc A. Schwartz for the Schwartz Family Foundation, the Katherine Tuck Enrichment Fund, and the following University of Michigan units: Arts at Michigan, the Arts of Citizenship Program, the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, the Center for the Education of Women, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Program in American Culture and The Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Visitors' Fund of the School of Art & Design.


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