Cincinnati Art Museum to Present Evocative Solo Exhibition “Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick”
CINCINNATIâ The Cincinnati Art Museum will present Kara Walker: Cut to Life, from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation– an exhibition that asks viewers to look deeper and not look away – from November 5, 2021 to January 17, 2022.
Leading contemporary artist and recipient of a MacArthur Engineering Fellowship, Kara Walker (b.1969) reexamines the archetypes of American history that continue to shape the structures of modern culture and the power mechanisms under which these images have emerged. been produced and consumed. Using an incisive mastery of form and contrasting shades of black, gray and white, the artist investigates the dominant legacies of violence, racism, sexism and imperialism that are so overtly manifested in the daily American experience.
Walker’s work spans multiple media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, film, printing techniques, and the paper-cut silhouettes for which she is best known. Engaging with the 19th century panorama experience, Walker creates narrative arcs that range from the transatlantic slave trade to the contemporary moment. His powerful and provocative images question America’s historical memory with tropes that are both comfortably familiar and unsettling. These investigative sites provide a space for contemplation without a predetermined resolution.
In Cincinnati, Cut as quickly as possible will be curated by Nashville-based poet and writer Ciona Rouse with Cincinnati Art Museum site curator Trudy Gaba. A community care space designed by Kara Pierson, founder of Lilac & Indigo of Cincinnati, accompanies the exhibit.
Rouse co-hosted the exhibit for its debut at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, alongside the Executive Director and CEO of The Frist, Dr. Susan H. Edwards. Selections of Rouse’s poetry inspired by Walker’s works will be on display in the gallery along with QR codes directing guests to audio versions of the poems.
âAs we step into Walker’s work we enter a world that seems almost whimsical but invites us to lean in and notice something far more grotesque, unsettling and necessary to struggle with. As a poet, I see the Walker’s work much like reading a poem. I find new images and create new meaning each time. And each time it calls me to see myself more clearly in the middle of the larger American narrative, “he said. said Rouse. “Cincinnati has such strong roots in abolition and freedom. I am delighted to reinvent this exhibit for this city and to join Ohio in answering the questions Walker presents in his work through this particular collection, which covers most of his career.
Through more than 80 works created between 1994 and 2019 from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the first American collectors of works on paper.Cut as quickly as possible demonstrates both the artistic mastery of Walker’s medium and the urgency and power of his message.
âAs a collector, I know how art can inform, confuse, elicit new perspectives and ultimately enrich our lives. For me, the idea of ââwaking up every day without art would be like waking up without the sun, âsaid Schnitzer. âWhen you learn about Kara Walker’s art, you are challenged not only to interpret the artist’s intention, but your own response as well. The stakes and the images of this exhibition are unfortunately timeless. Racial and gender inequalities have impacted our lives from the beginning of our existence. Kara Walker’s art guides us through our own beliefs and values. I hope everyone who sees this exhibition of Kara Walker prints and multiples is as inspired and moved as I am.
Cut as quickly as possible includes several of the artist’s most renowned series, including The rapprochement of emancipation (1999-2000), Testimony (2005), Harper’s Illustrated History of the Civil War (annotated) (2005), An uninhabited land in uncharted waters (2010), and Porgy & Bess (2013). The most recent work in the exhibition is a small-scale bronze model of Fons Americanus, the allegorical monument installed in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in 2019.
In the gallery, the series undertakes an immersive experience, giving the viewer the feeling of being part of the scenes in front of him, involved by the presence, both participant and observer. Walker’s work engages the viewer in a disruptive awareness, daringly clashing the reality of history with the artificiality of fictions.
His extensive research in history, literature, art history and popular culture is integral to Walker’s artistic process. His iconic installations of room-sized silhouettes in paintings are heavily influenced by forms of storytelling ranging from mythology to fantasy, and were inspired by his study of colonial portraiture, animated films and the popular craft of 19th century paper cut silhouette portrait.
âThe figure lends itself to avoiding the subject, not being able to look directly at it,â Walker said of his signature style. âYet he’s there all the time, staring you in the face. “
The Cincinnati Art Museum hosted a previous solo exhibition of Walker’s work. In 2010 Kara Walker: Harper’s Illustrated History of the Civil War (annotated) presented his series of prints of the same name in its entirety. The series is part of the museum’s permanent collection, and pieces from it appeared in the 2016 presentation of 30 Americans as well as the special exhibition 2019-2020 Women are breaking boundaries.
âWalker’s bravery jumps out at me as I walk through this exhibit,â said Rouse. She’s ready to tackle tough questions, dig into our mythologies and tackle issues our country so often goes through testing cycles to get back under the rug. And she does it exquisitely in various media. This exhibit shows his range and bravery and, perhaps, invites viewers to enter our own versions of courage in response. “
The museum asks visitors to note that this exhibit contains mature content, including depictions of physical and sexual trauma. A community care space, with resources for reflection, mindfulness and rest, is integrated into the exhibit space.
Tickets cost $ 12 for general admission, with reduced rates for students, children, and seniors. Entry is free for members. Photography is permitted without flash. On social media, use #CAMWalker.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a varied program for all ages; details will be announced closer to the exhibition dates.
About the Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses who give annually to ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum warmly thanks the City of Cincinnati and its members for their support.
Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a donation from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Prices for special exhibitions may vary. Parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is free. Visit cincinnatiartmuseum.org for more information.