The University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) at UMass Amherst is proud to present Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power .
Kara Walker has become one of the most widely-known and controversial artists working today. Exploring the painful history of American race relations through large-scale silhouette installations, Walker’s work transforms historical materials, literary sources and popular culture, challenging us to access buried emotions about our nation’s past. In her hands, the medium of silhouette becomes a tool for examining the traumatic legacy of slavery.
This exhibition brings together 60 works in a variety of mediums, from printmaking (such as lithograph, etching with aquatint, photogravure, linocut, and screen-print), to wall murals, metal sculpture and shadow puppetry. The exhibition was curated by Jessi Di Tillio, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon. All works in this exhibition come from the Portland, Oregon-based collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.
Collector Jordan Schnitzer has said, “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.”
The exhibition includes three narrative series — The Emancipation Approximation (1999–2000), Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated (2005), and An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters (2010) — along with numerous individual works that underline Walker's use of Antebellum and Reconstruction-era imagery and themes. Her narratives unfold in elaborate tableaux that tackle issues of race, slavery, sexuality, identity, and power. The works, which are inventive and painful but also satirical and humorous, were selected for the exhibition to display the range of approaches Walker uses to explore the legacy of slavery.
Walker explained, “One theme in my artwork is the idea that a Black subject in the present tense is a container for specific pathologies from the past and is continually growing and feeding off those maladies....” By looking carefully at a selection of Walker’s projects in different media, this exhibition emphasizes the interface between technique and concept in her work. Walker’s use of historically inflected techniques investigates the question: “How is contemporary identity shaped and affected by the imagery from the past?”
Opening Reception, UMCA UMass-Amherst, February 2017
Caitlin Cherry, Kara Walker Nominated Artist-in-Residence, Discusses Her Work at UMCA
The Forgotten History: Slaves in New England - 3/1/17
23rd Annual Du Bois Lecture - Viewing the Past Through the Eyes of the Present: A Dialogue Around the Work of Kara Walker, 2/22/17
So Now I'm Looking Dead at You, What Are You Gonna Do? Kara Walker's Contemporary Visuality - 2/7/17
- "Emancipating The Past: Kara Walker's Tales of Slavery and Power" Opening February at UMCA at UMASS Amherst
- Art & Public History: A Dialogue, Umass Amherst Department of History
- Exhibition Opens for Artist-In-Residence Caitlin Cherry at UMCA
- 23rd Annual Du Bois Lecture Discusses Violence of Slavery in Response to Art Exhibit
- 23rd Annual Du Bois Lecture: Viewing the Past Through the Eyes of the Present, A Dialogue Around the Work of Kara Walker
- The Bill Newman Show Interviews Jordan Schnitzer on the Importance of Kara Walker and Contemporary Art
- Jordan Schnitzer talks Contemporary Artwork, Social Awareness in MassLive Interview
- UMass Amherst Announces Kara Walker Exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art
- The Massachusetts Daily Collegian Highlights Kara Walker Exhibition at University Museum of Contemporary Art
- Opening Reception & Lecture by Jordan Schnitzer - Wednesday, February 1, 5 – 7 p.m.
- So Now I'm Looking Dead at You, What Are You Gonna Do? Kara Walker's Contemporary Visuality - Tuesday, February 7, 4:30 PM
Lecture on the Art of Kara Walker by Kelli Morgan, Winston and Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst
- 23rd Annual Du Bois Lecture - Viewing the Past Through the Eyes of the Present: A Dialogue Around the Work of Kara Walker. February 22, 4:00-6:00 PM
- The Forgotten History: Slaves in New England - March 1, 4:30 PM
Panel Discussion led by Gretchen Gerzina (Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College). Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160.
- Printmaking Project Opening by Caitlin Cherry, Kara Walker- Nominated Artist-in-Residence - March 23
Exhibition Opens for Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Cherry’s printmaking project. Cherry was nominated by Kara Walker for the first printmaking residency collaboration between UMCA and UMass Art Department.
- Caitlin Cherry: Artist Reception and Talk - March 29, 5:00 - 7:00 PM
- Black Aesthetics Symposium: March 31 - April 1, 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Organized by Hampshire College Philosophy Prof. Monique Roelofs. This symposium explores the transdisciplinary, aesthetic and social-political issues raised in a number of important recent texts on Black aesthetics reflecting a variety of disciplines — African-American studies, comparative literature, philosophy, cultural studies, etc. — and a range of art mediums—poetry, music, visual arts, architecture, and popular culture. (UMass Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Cherry participates as a panelist). Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College. See Hampshire College website for details: www.hampshire.edu.
- Redrawing Identity - April 3, 4:00 - 5:30 PM
Panel Discussion moderated by Karen Kurczynski (Art History, UMass). This panel will discuss drawing’s unique potential as manifested in Kara Walker’s work, as well as that of other contemporary artists who use drawing to reframe social identity as it intersects directly with politics. With Kalia Brooks, (Art, NYU); Christine Ho (Art History, UMass); Daniel Kojo-Schrade (Art, Hampshire College); and Nico Vicario (Art History, Amherst College). Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160.
- Film Screening in Collaboration with the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival: Daughters of the Dust - April 12, 7:30 PM
Film Screening in collaboration with the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival. This is a new release of the 1991 independent film written, directed, and produced by Julie Dash. Daughters was the first feature film directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the U.S. The film will be introduced by Yemisi Jimoh, Professor of Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst. Isenberg School of Management, Flavin Auditorium, Rm 137.
- Spoken Word Event: Say Her Name - April 28, 7:30 PM
Narratives of Oppression and Triumph, Celebrating the Voices of Women of Color. spoken word event with Kiara Hill, Afro-American Studies doctoral student; and Eden Bekele, Art History undergraduate student. Co-sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life. Fine Arts Center lobby.
For more information about events, please visit the UMCA website.
- Bellevue Arts Museum - July 8 - November 27, 2016 (link)
- University of Wyoming Art Museum - January 30 - May 14, 2016 (link)
- Springfield Art Museum - September 12 - January 3, 2016 (link)
- David C. Driskell Center - February 5 - May 29, 2015 (link)
- Boise Art Museum - June 7 - August 17, 2014 (link)
- Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art - January 25 - April 6, 2014 (link)
- Crocker Art Museum - September 22 - January 5, 2014 (link)