SPOTLIGHT: KARA WALKER

 

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Kara Walker is an American Artist known for her bold exploration into race, culture and gender and identity issues. You might not have remembered her name, but surely I can recall you to her work once I show you those explosive black silhouettes resembling paper cut-outs that she’s most known for.

Born in 1969, Walker attended the Rhode Island School of Design and has gone on to showcase her work in some of the finest museums around: MOMA, SFMOMA, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, just to name a few. She is the youngest MacArthur recipient as well as the youngest artist to receive a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 2007, Walker was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In the article, fellow artist Barbara Kruger summed up Walker’s work amazingly with this quote. “Walker’s vigilance has produced a compelling reckoning with the twisted trajectories of race in America. Her installations and films forcefully pluralize our notion of a singular “history.” They create a profusion of back stories and revisions that slash and burn through the pieties of patriotism and the glosses of “color blindness.” Restarting the engines of seemingly archaic methods, from the graphic effect of silhouette portraits to the machine-age ethos of film, she produces a cast of characters and caricatures with appetites for destruction and reproduction, for power and sex.”

This past year, Walker took over the historic Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn for a collaboration with Creative Time NYC.  The exhibit, ‘Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby’ was “an homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.”

The exhibit was mind-blowing – scattered throughout the space were Banana Boys, life-size statues of little boys cast in sugar resin holding baskets, dripping dark molasses inside the warm building, adding to the permeating smell of burnt sugar. But nothing could distract from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx resting at 75-feet-long and 35-feet-tall.

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Delve deeper into Kara Walker’s work with these resources:

 

*featured pic courtesy of Creative Time, all other pics taken by HAHA MAG

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is highlighting their collection of works made by artists of African descent with a new publication and exhibit of the same name, Represent: 200 Years of African American Art.

Represent opened to the public, January 10, 2015. The exhibition features 75+ works culled from the museum’s holdings by consulting curator Dr. Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, and Project Curatorial Assistant, John Vick.

For the majority of the public, many of the pieces in this exhibit have only been seen in photographs. The exhibition is a reflection of the history of race in the United States, it is also comprised of unique voices that separate themselves from categorization with their creative freedoms.

The hand of the artist weaves itself in and out of historical, social and personal conflict with narratives we try to understand; our engagement with these stories is a base for commonality. They make one think about the things that say true and unchanging – the importance of identity – finding a place of belonging that can hold an honest grounding within our individuality. The diversity of this approach can be seen in the presentation of works chosen.

Before you enter the exhibit gallery, notice the drawings of the exterior and interior of the Main Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, attributed to the architect Julian Abele. In 1902, Abele was the first African American to graduate from the architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania.

It’s a fitting beginning to the complexity of art that ranges in means and interpretation throughout the five groupings; Early America, Imagining Modernity, Abstract Approaches, Past Made Present, Facing the Collection.

Notable Philadelphians in the exhibit: Moses Williams, former slave and profile cutter in the household of portrait artist and first museum entrepreneur Charles Willson Peale; Henry Ossawa Tanner, whose painting The Annunciation was the first African American work to be acquired by an American Museum; Dox Thrash, a printmaker ; Sculptor, Barbara Chase-Riboud; Moe Brooke; Barkley L. Hendricks.

As you walk through the exhibit, don’t miss this unintentional conversation between – The Deposition by Bob Thompson and Present Futures by Moe Brooker. The paintings sit cattycorner to one another, sharing the same celebratory color palettes. [Thanks to DuBois Shaw for pointing that out]

Within the exhibit space, Kara Walker is the youngest artist shown. At 46, Walker is still a very relevant artist, but it’s worth pointing out that artist Jayson Musson (Gallery 124 in the permanent collection) is a younger voice that bookends the exhibition. Musson’s, Trying to find our spot off in that light, light off in the spot can be seen in the permanent collection, with a reference to it’s inclusion in the catalogue and exhibition.

Represent: 200 Years of African American Art runs until April 5, 2015. A wide variety of special events and celebratory programs are happening in conjunction with this exhibit. Learn about them here.

Our Highlights:

Horace Pippin – The End of the War: Starting Home
From afar it can seem a simple canvassed painting. But a closer inspection will reveal scenes that depict the brutality of war. Notice its framing of carved weapons, helmets, and tanks.

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Carrie Mae Weems – Untitled
Three of the twenty photographs that comprise The Kitchen Table Series are shown here (One of our Art Basel Miami highlights). Weems stages these stretched scenes into long unspoken sentences comprised of emotions and identity within relationships.
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Glenn Ligon – Untitled (I’m Turning Into a Specter before Your Very Eyes and I’m Going to Haunt You)
Stand there long enough to realize that you are re-reading a single phrase; Ligon’s repetition of this phrase begins to dissipate into a powerful message as the words begin to blur and disappears into a bigger meaning.

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Wille Cole – Reversed Evidence
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Moses Williams – Peale Family Silhouettes

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REPRESENT IMAGE 1.

Top 5 Art Shows of 2014

There was no polling of art aficionados, no pouring over magazines or newspaper reviews, and there’s definitely no big ballin’ art plays for likability listed below.  These shows made the list because I visited them more than once (that rarely ever happens) or my sensibilities were totally confounded by the creativity.  Shows that make that kind of impression can provide a year’s worth of conversational tidbits and a measure to which you might hold all others.  Aw, enough with that…these shows rocked my 2014.

Spring Break Art Show

It’s fun, fresh, and daring like newly graduated art school minds before they get crushed and compromised. This curator driven show, gets set up in an old schoolhouse during Armory Arts Week in New York. Yes, we know it’s technically an art fair. But the 2014 show, PublicPrivate won us over with installations that we talked up all-year-long.

Kara Walker: A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby

Kara Walker’s Installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn was a “homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.” The exhibit was mind-blowing – from the overwhelmingly beautiful conceptual execution of the sugar-coated sphinx-like woman, to the very unexpected nauseating smell of burnt sugar permeating the hot factory.

A photo posted by @hahamag on

Swoon: Submerged Motherlands

Swoon’s intricate wheat-paste portraits normally grace New York buildings, but for Motherlands she went large-scale, telling landscaped stories against a backdrop of dramatically blue washed walls in the Brooklyn Museum rotunda. The star of the show was the massive sculptural tree that nearly kissed the rotunda’s 72 foot high glass domed ceiling.

David Lynch: The Unified Field

Lynch’s grime aesthetics found solace at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia (PAFA), where he studied as an advanced painting student in 1967. The exhibit explored Lynch’s hybrid collection of works, displaying a delicate balance from disturbing narratives to richly descriptive lithographs. Unified Field is his world of opposites that he wanders in and out of at will.

Interhaven: The Works of Caitlin McCormack

McCormack’s sorted things in shadowboxes lay posed and gracefully still as if they once knew air – their layers of articulated overlapping crocheted beige string bones resembled the things they never were. The show’s curio layout carried a pleasantly haunting tone, but it was the lingering of McCormack’s stored memories seen through these tangible manifestations of contained dreams and nightmares that left me feeling domed under her bell jars.

*thank you to paperclips215 & Paradigm Gallery for the use of their Instagram Photos