Kara Walker

In order to help along my project, I decided to look at some artists which may inspire me to gain momentum and bring my project in a new and exiting direction.

My lecturer suggested a lot of great artists for me to research, but one of my favourites is definitely Kara Walker, a US born artist (1969) who is most famous for her black silhouette cut outs which portray power, repression, history, race and sexuality.

Growing up, Walker always knew that she wanted to be an artist having been heavily inspired by her father’s own artwork.

Her paper silhouettes, often depicting history’s prejudice again black people, especially black women, I feel are incredibly powerful. What I love the most about them is the fact that they are on such a huge scale, covering entire walls in exhibitions, when usually you would think of paper silhouettes as being fairly small, or the black shape to be created with shadow. I feel like she has deliberately chosen to go against that and make them huge, unavoidable, and in your face as if to say “Look at this!”, “Don’t shove America’s dark history under the mat.”

Her cut outs often depict fairly uncomfortable scenes, too, such as this one, where there appears to be a black woman holding her child, and letting it urinate into the mouth of a white woman. Most of her picture appear to be set in the era of Slavery in America, as the latter woman is dressed in typical of-the-time clothing.

Despite this, there seems to be a definitely shift in power between both women; the white woman is on her knees, begging, where as the black woman is standing up straight, showing off her obvious motherhood through her child and the milk from her breast.

The children to the right of the picture seem to also be of different race, although they are not fighting each other, or trying to be more powerful than each other -I find this interesting, and personally see it as a way of showing that children are born without prejudice, but develop it over time through their parents and observation.

I find it difficult to decide what the meaning of the objects in the girls’ hands are – especially what the girl on the far right is holding. She could either be holding a toy, which would go along with my point of children having no prejudices, or it would be a small weapon – which, directed at the black mother, could mean something altogether much more sinister.

As a feminist, and someone who is very passionate about the profound importance of equality, I find Walker’s art incredibly interesting. I would love to be able to create such strong and thought provoking images as this artist, and hope to find a way to include her influence in my future works.

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