Kara Walker, who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Atlanta College of Art, is a mural artist known for her large-scale cut-paper silhouette works. TINA FINEBERG / ASSOCIATED PRESS
Born in Stockton, California, in 1969, Walker moved to Atlanta when she was 13. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1991. She later earned her master’s at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994.
In 1997, Walker, then 27, received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Three years later, she would receive the Deutsche Bank Prize.
And she’s not the only artistic genius in her family: Her father, Larry, is a prolific artist and a professor emeritus at Georgia State University.
Kara Walker’s monumental work “The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin” has been on display at the High Museum since October 2018. CONTRIBUTED BY HIGH MUSEUM
Kara Walker’s work has appeared in major collections at the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York City. Her work has most recently been featured in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
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Despite Walker's success, her work has been viewed as controversial, in part, Rooks said, because of the satirical depiction of sexual violence.
"I want the viewer to feel a giddy discomfort — the same sort that happens when I'm making the work," Walker told the Guardian in a 2013 interview about her work.
That same discomfort can also be seen in “The Jubilant Martyrs of Obsolescence and Ruin.”
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“Because the work’s figures are stylized in a way that looks almost comical, it takes a while for the dark side of the work to sink into viewers,” Rooks said.
Walker’s almost-60-foot-wide installation explores race, gender, and sexual violence and is a direct response to the Confederate Memorial Carving on Stone Mountain, in whose shadow Walker grew up. Rooks said the piece works to reconcile African Americans’ oppressive and unjust experiences in the South against racial and gender stereotypes and efforts to advance equality in America.
“She essentially invites us to come to terms with it rather than hiding it or glossing over the horrible histories,” Rooks said.
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