The Boston Globe's Cate McQuaid explores the exhibition Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power, now open at University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMass Amherst.
Observing that the exhibition opened at a time when racial issues are at the forefront of American current events, McQuaid writes that, "Kara Walker’s silhouettes become mirrors for our own racism, humor, horror, and compassion. Her work is a shadow play, a nebulous projection of society’s terrors and desires."
Two of Walker's most powerful print series, Emancipation Approximation and Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated), are featured in the exhibition. Walker uses "exaggerated, simplified forms, rooted in the era the artist depicts, [to] provide easy, diversionary routes into aching subject matter. But they are sugar coating. Once you stop laughing, once you step away from the romantic intrigue of heroes and villains and you grasp the stories she is telling, prepare to be wrecked." McQuaid says.