Biography

Kara Walker

“One of my earliest memories involves sitting on my dad’s lap in his studio in the garage of our house and watching him draw. I remember thinking: ‘I want to do that, too,’ and I pretty much decided then and there at age 2½ or 3 that I was an artist just like Dad.” —Kara Walker 1

Kara Walker (American, b. 1969) is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine the underbelly of America's racial and gender tensions. Her works often address such highly charged themes as power, repression, history, race, and sexuality. Born in Stockton, California, Walker moved to the South at age 13 when her father, artist Larry Walker, accepted a position at Georgia State University and her family relocated to Stone Mountain, a suburb of Atlanta. Focusing on painting and printmaking in college, she received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Walker was included in the 1997 Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Later that year, at the age of 27, she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius" grant, which launched a public controversy around her work. In 2002 she was chosen to represent the United States in the São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the collections of major museums worldwide. The 2007 Walker Art Center–organized exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love is the artist's first full-scale U.S. museum survey. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Click here for Kara Walker’s Exhibition History.

1Flo Wilson, “On Walls and the Walkers,” The International Review of African American Art 20.3: 17–19.

Photo of artist by Cameron Wittig, 2005

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