“Kara Walker: Annotating History” will be on view from November 1 through December 21, 2008, at the Pomona College Museum of Art in Claremont. An opening reception will be held at the Museum on Saturday, November 1, from 5-7 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit, Gwendolyn Dubois Shaw, professor of American art and director of visual studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will present a public lecture entitled “A Flood of Rememory: Hurricane Katrina and Visual Trauma,” on Thursday, November 20, at 4:15 p.m.
In 2007 Time magazine named Walker one of the top 100 most influential figures in the arts. Artist Barbara Kruger stated in the article: “Few have managed to capture the collision between past and present, between histories and horror stories, between sexuality and shame, between skin and meat, as powerfully and provocatively as Kara Walker.”
Best known for her iconic, room-size, silhouette installation pieces, Walker has gained notable recognition with exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1997 Walker became the youngest recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award, and was selected as the United States representative to the 2002 São Paolo Biennale in Brazil.
“Kara Walker: Annotating History” focuses on Walker’s rereading and restatement of the American Civil War, appropriating selected illustrations from the two-volume publication Harper’s Illustrated History of the Civil War of 1866/1868. Silhouette figures are superimposed over the illustrations, interrupting and transforming the dominant 19th-century narrative of battle, death and national sacrifice. Other representations of slavery and racism challenge both the selective erasures and portrayals of African Americans during the antebellum period and their involvement in the American Civil War.
The exhibition includes the original Harper’s Illustrated History of the Civil War, courtesy of the Claremont Colleges Honnold/Mudd Library, Walker’s cut paper installation Danse de la Nubienne Nouveaux, and Negress Notes, her series of gauche and ink drawings, courtesy of the Broad Foundation.