Kara Walker (b. 1969) was born in Stockton, California and raised in Georgia. The characters that populate her work often reference the Victorian silhouette tradition while also highlighting the reduction of human beings to the exaggerated characteristics indicative of racial and gender stereotypes.
While at times controversial, her work encourages the type of engagement, interpretation, and dialogue that great art elicits. It’s powerful, and might make some visitors uncomfortable.
Depictions of a black woman’s experience within slavery is a stark departure from the past Schnitzer exhibits that PCA has hosted. The work of Chuck Close, Louise Bourgeois, and Ellsworth Kelly, all previously exhibited in the East Oregonian Gallery, can be viewed strictly as beautiful images without an agenda. Walker’s work confronts the viewer. It asks us to look at race and gender through someone else’s eyes and to have an honest discussion about how racial and gender stereotypes and power imbalances persist in our lives.
The works in this exhibit were chosen to highlight both Walker’s iconic silhouettes and the range of mediums she works with, from glass and metal to photogravures based on shadow-plays.
The prints are on loan from Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. The collection is one of the largest in the world and features contemporary prints and multiples of the most important artists in America. Over the last 25 years the Foundation has organized over 110 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 150 museums. These exhibitions are loaned for free and his program is recognized for funding outreach programs to make sure that everyone in every community, regardless of age, is able to experience amazing art by the best artists of our time.