Kara Walker: Not So Simple Silhouettes

Kara Walker amongst some of her silhouettes, by Librado Romero/NY Times

Kara Walker, is a contemporary African American artist best known for her work of iconic silhouette figures made through various media such as installation, drawings, gouaches, projections and puppet-show videos. Born in California in 1969, Ms. Walker knew from an early age that she would become an artist like her father. When she was 13, her father moved their family to the less integrated southern state of Georgia after accepting a teaching job in Atlanta. Her world drastically changed during this time as she was constantly reminded of her gender and skin color and made to feel pain because of it.

Kara Walker first studied art in Georgia and received her BFA from Atlanta College. She later earned her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. It was during her graduate studies where she became interested in the cut-paper medium.

Kara Walker, installing her work.

With inspiration from the artists Andy Warhol and Robert Colescott, and driven by her own experiences as a black female, she developed her own visual language touching on important and challenging issues of race, gender and identity, later earning her a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. 

>Learn More about Kara Walker by watching Art 21: Stories.

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