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Cover artwork: Kara Walker, First Effort, 2022, ink on paper, 78 x 79 inches. (KW 20241). Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery.

Join the Lamar Dodd School of Art for a tour led by Dr. Katie Geha, the director of the Athenaeum and the curator of Kara Walker: Back of Hand. Geha will lead a conversational tour of the exhibition discussing the development of the show and examining major themes presented. The talk will be followed by light snacks and refreshments.

The exhibition displays a series of new works on paper by Kara Walker that examine themes such as complicity, racism, misremembered histories, and the violence that undergirds the legacy of the South. Walker moved to Stone Mountain from Stockton, CA when she was 13 and attended college at the Atlanta College of Art and Design. The exhibition will be on display from January 13th to March 23rd, 2023.

Currently based in New York, Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. The body of work in this exhibition represents her continued practice in drawing, working in watercolor, gouache, ink and graphite to create a series that calls forth the past at once mythological and real, ancient and contemporary. According to Walker, “I am always reflecting on the state of current events and the overlap of the historical and the mythic.”

Walker draws from a variety of influences in this recent work, recalling the political sketches of Goya, the caricatures of Daumier, and the “exotic” spectacle presented in the paintings of Gaugin. Two suites of work on display from her on-going series Book of Hours, started during the pandemic, have multivalent references that stem from medieval illuminated manuscripts to the actual time Walker spent creating the work to the uncanny, out-of-time sensation many of us endured during the early months of the pandemic. 

The practice of drawing for Walker is a hopeful, grounding activity. “Sitting down to make an intimate drawing is a conversation, a way of listening to what’s grumbling inside my body,” Walker explains, “and an attempt to transmit, nonverbally, an experience of being.” Two very large scale almost mural-like drawings, The Ballad of How We Got Here and Feast of Famine both completed in 2021 and shown for the first time, present a new direction for Walker. Through a tangle of scrawled texts that fill the large paper, cut paper figures affixed to the ground seemingly dance and whirl across the page. Through the chaos of words, Walker indicates to the viewer that history and its attendant interpretations are anything but neat. Instead, Walker presents history without moral or as she explains, “To demand exactitude in the pursuit of a historical truth is to go where no mind can venture and return whole.”

 

This exhibition is generously supported by a gift from the Lupin Foundation.

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