Archive for March 10, 2010

African Americans in Art….. Kara Walker

Kara Walker is perhaps the most famous African American modern contemporary artist out there. Her work doesn’t involve color but relies on the silhouette to show feeling and emotion to the viewer.  Some of her images are quite graphic and show the struggles of a young negress as she calls them. Many of her works seem to revolve around racism and attitudes toward black women.

Born in 1969 to a very creative family, she wanted to be an artist like dad when she was 2 or 3. Mrs. Walker was only 28 when she received the MacArthur Fellowship also called the genius grant. I will write about this years recepients soon as I am huge fan of Rackstraw Downes, one of the winners this past year. Her work mainly depicts life in the south and how blacks were treated.

In one of the first paintings to bring her national attention “The Battle of Atlanta “a white soldier rapes a black woman while her brother watches in horror.A black man sheds tears on a young white adolescent. Very provacative, but her mainly white audience can’t get enough. She studied art in college the Rhode Island School of Design and also at Atlanta College of Art. Most of her works are in fact prints or very huge pieces meant to be seen on a while. She is a master of the cut canvas or paper collage attached to a wall for viewing.

In the past she also has made small illustrated books as well as the glass etchings I included in the beginning photos of this article. On Ebay every now and then an original painting will be available but they usually start at around 50,000 dollars. The genius grant is monumental accomplishment for an artist, along with the 500,000 cash you receive much notoriety from museum cureators and also top galleries and print makers.

Kara Walker is an OUTSTANDING artist to learn from. Try and put some emotional feeling and content into your pieces. Try starting out with a silhouette first and working backwards. Also take note at the exaggerations used to draw people without rendering the body. The nappy hair, the big lips, the thick full boned females. Without any color you know the race of the character and what emotion they are feeling.

Hope you do some more research on this fine artist, I will do a section on other papercut artists like Nikki McClure because paper cutting can be  a valuable tool on learning to include what is important in a picture to get your point across and what is not.

Keep learning, researching, and growing! Spring is the time for growth!