Kara Walker’s recent films take their titles and narratives from documents in the archives of the Freedmen’s Bureau, established in 1865 to assist African Americans with the transition from slavery to freedom, and operational until 1872. The artist employs her signature black-silhouette cutout figures to depict extreme emotions in a shadow puppet theater-like space. The presentation is deliberately self-referential, with shots panning behind the scenes to reveal the human actors.
Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She received a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Walker is known for her work with paper silhouettes that explores complex issues of race, violence, gender, and sexuality. In her film work, Walker’s silhouetted figures become puppets, interacting with one another and their surroundings in ways that create new potential for narrative development and the interrogation of American history. Solo exhibitions of Walker’s work have appeared at the Walker Art Center; the Whitney Museum of American Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Studio Museum in Harlem. Walker was a 1997 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives and works in New York.