Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power on view at the Bellevue Arts Museum July 8 – November 27, 2016
Bellevue, WA—Kara Walker is arguably one of the most prominent and controversial artists working in America today. Challenging conventional (and comfortable) understandings of American history, Walker's works are intentionally confrontational and offer unflinching representations of racial and gender stereotypes from America's not-so-distant past.
Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power, presents three of Walker's narrative portfolio series—The Emancipation Approximation (1999–2000), Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated (2005), and An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters (2010)—accompanied by single works that highlight her use of Antebellum and Reconstruction-era imagery and themes. Walker's narratives unfold throughout elaborate tableaux that tackle issues of race, slavery, sexuality, identity, and power. The artist's modern use of antiquated media such as cut-paper silhouettes, 8mm film, and 19th-century printmaking, further reveals the complexities and ambiguities of historical and present day racial representation while providing a subtext for the provocative narratives played out in her work.
The 60 works on view include several of the artist's large-scale print series, cut-steel sculptures, a mural, and a video installation, displaying the range of approaches she has taken to exploring the legacy of slavery and its impact on contemporary American identity. The works in the exhibition are accompanied by interactive educational materials that contextualize black memorabilia and racist stereotyping, as well as the original Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, first published by Ed. Alfred H. Guernsey and Henry M. Alden in 1866.
Kara Walker received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art and an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her work is held in many renowned public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Tate Collection, London. A 1997 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Walker lives in New York, where she is on the faculty of the MFA program at Columbia University.
Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, is organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon, and curated by Jessi DiTillio. The local presentation of this exhibition is curated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken.
About the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, evolving into his lifelong avocation as collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection has now reached 9,500 works and includes many of today’s most important contemporary artists. It has grown to be one of the country’s largest private print collections overall. He generously lends work from his collection to qualified institutions and has organized over 100 exhibitions at more than 75 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also President of Harsch Investment Properties, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Portland, Oregon, with 22 million square feet of office, multi-tenant industrial, multi-family and retail properties in six western states. For more information about the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, please visit jordanschnitzer.org.
BELLEVUE ARTS MUSEUM
Bellevue Arts Museum is a leading destination in the Pacific Northwest to experience art, craft, and design. BAM engages the community through exhibitions, programs, and publications, featuring regional, national, and international artists. bellevuearts.org.