Prolific artist and filmmaker Kara Walker’s fascination with artistic expression as a means of navigating her identity has roots in her early childhood. As the daughter of a painter, she credits her father with her early interest in drawing and painting which led to her later explorations of identity through of silhouettes, installation art, filmmaking and paper crafts. Best known for her floor to ceiling tableaux made of cut paper silhouettes, Walker creates pieces that are equal parts beautifully powerful and exceptionally haunting.
I don’t remember when or where I first came across her work but I do remember the feelings it instantly evoked. When viewing Walker’s work, her craft and skill is brilliantly evident but her images and scenes are often unsettling or, at the very least, unpleasant to look at. Walker captures a historical and generational pain experienced by many Black community members in ways that often transfer to the viewer. Despite this, the stories she tells through her images are captivating and you’ll find yourself looking long and hard at deeply thought-provoking work. To learn more about Walker’s journey through understanding what it means to her to be a Black woman in America, check out the resources below:
Artist’s bio from Walker Art Center
Kara Walker: Starting Out (video)
To learn how to make paper crafts inspired by the paper silhouettes walker has made take a look at our YouTube Channel @clpvideo and the Paper Cutting eBook suggested below!
Resources Available on Hoopla Digital:
Paper Cutting Book
There’s a renaissance underway in the art form of cut paper, with an explosion of raw talent and an abundance of amazing work produced in the medium in recent years. This gorgeous volume features work from 26 contemporary international artists who are creating images of astonishing intricacy, using little more than paper and blade. Featuring a host of new discoveries and including art by such stars as Nikki McClure, Rob Ryan, and Thomas Allen, Paper Cutting is sure to engage art buffs and indie crafters alike. An in-depth introduction by paper art expert Natalie Avella illuminates the rich history of the centuries-old form, and a whimsical preface by beloved artist Rob Ryan rounds out this delightful collection.
“The Stories We Tell” Finding Your Roots – Season 3 Episode 1
Discover the unsolved mysteries behind the family stories of political organizer Donna Brazile, actor Ty Burrell and artist Kara Walker as they learn how the legacy of slavery has shaped their identities.