SPRINGFIELD, MO – The Springfield Art Museum presents Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power, on view from September 12, 2015 to January 3, 2016. The exhibition brings together 60 works from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation in a variety of mediums, from large-scale printmaking to metal sculpture, shadow puppetry, and film. The exhibition opens with a free public reception on Friday, September 11, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Kara Walker is best known for her black cut-paper silhouettes that explore the painful history of American race relations and its contemporary paradoxes. Set primarily in the American pre-Civil War antebellum South, Walker questions traditional narratives of race, gender, sex and power through exaggerated truths and fictionalized events leaving viewers to unpack, sort out, and ultimately decide which elements are true. Walker utilizes the framework of conventional storytelling via characters, setting and action but composes narratives that are not always linear and don’t necessarily include a clear plot line. In the artist’s words, “There is always a beginning and there’s never a conclusion.” Walker is interested in the stories we tell about ourselves and specifically, a desire for a narrative about “African American” that engages the past, present, and future.
Director Nick Nelson adds, "Kara Walker's art is challenging on so many levels. Not only does it address our painful history of racial violence, it also demands that we address how images define and even oppress. The conversations her work elicit transcend history and force us to look at contemporary issues, which is why these works are so important."
Born in Stockton, California, Walker received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. At the age of 27, she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the collections of major museums worldwide. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.
This exhibit was organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. Jordan Schnitzer notes that "Kara Walker is one of the most important artists in our collection. Her art needs to be seen and the themes need to be examined. No artist today does a better job of forcing the viewers to deal with stereotypes, gender, and race.”
This exhibition is intended for an adult audience.
October 22, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.:
Kara Walker in Context
Curlee Holton, Director of the David C. Driskell Center
November 5, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.:
Art 21: Kara Walker
About the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation:
Jordan D. Schnitzer purchased his first work of art when he was fourteen years old from his mother, Arlene Schnitzer, who started the first contemporary art gallery in Portland, Oregon, the Fountain Gallery. It was through her and her gallery that his initial acquisition of one painting turned into a lifelong pursuit of being an art patron. Jordan began buying contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. As the collection grew, so did inquiries from museums wishing to buy prints for exhibitions. The public nature of these initial exhibitions sparked a passion for sharing the collection that is the basis of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation and Lending Program. The Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation makes its collections of post-war works of art available to museums at no cost. In addition, it also provides funds for education and community outreach programs. To learn more, contact: Catherine Malone, Collection Manager, (503) 973-0267, firstname.lastname@example.org.