Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power

February 2 – April 30, 2017
Kara Walker: The Emancipation Approximation (Scene #18), 1999 – 2000;
The Emancipation Approximation (Scene #18), 1999 – 2000;
Screen print; 44 x 34 in.; Edition of 20
Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
© 2016 Kara Walker

From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation


Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 1, 5 – 7 p.m.
Talk by Collector Jordan Schnitzer


The University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) at UMass Amherst is proud to present Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power .

Kara Walker has become one of the most widely-known and controversial artists working today. Exploring the painful history of American race relations through large-scale silhouette installations, Walker’s work transforms historical materials, literary sources and popular culture, challenging us to access buried emotions about our nation’s past. In her hands, the medium of silhouette becomes a tool for examining the traumatic legacy  of slavery.

This exhibition brings together 60 works in a variety of mediums, from printmaking  (such as lithograph, etching with aquatint, photogravure, linocut, and screen-print), to wall murals, metal sculpture and shadow puppetry. The exhibition was curated by Jessi  Di Tillio, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon. All works in this exhibition come from the Portland, Oregon-based collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.

Collector Jordan Schnitzer has said, “Kara Walker is one of the most important artists in our collection. Her art needs to be seen and the themes need to be examined. No artist today does a better job of forcing the viewers to deal with stereotypes, gender, and race.”

The exhibition includes three narrative series — The Emancipation Approximation  (1999–2000),  Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated  (2005), and  An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters  (2010) — along with numerous individual works that underline Walker's use of Antebellum and Reconstruction-era imagery and themes. Her narratives unfold in elaborate tableaux that tackle issues of race, slavery, sexuality, identity, and power. The works, which are inventive and painful but also satirical and humorous, were selected for the exhibition to display the range of approaches Walker uses to explore the legacy of slavery.

Walker explained, “One theme in my artwork is the idea that a Black subject in the present tense is a container for specific pathologies from the past and is continually growing and feeding off those maladies....” By looking carefully at a selection of Walker’s projects in different media, this exhibition emphasizes the interface between technique and concept in her work. Walker’s use of historically inflected techniques investigates the question: “How is contemporary identity shaped and affected by the imagery from the past?”

Daily Collegian Article PDF version

Mass Live Article PDF version



 

 



 

Events

Listing of events (593KB pdf)

Opening Reception

Kara Walker
Wednesday, February 1, 5‒7 p.m.

Remarks by Collector Jordan Schnitzer at 6 p.m.



Public Tour of the Exhibition

Amherst Arts Night Plus

Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m

Tour in collaboration with Amherst Arts Night Plus. UMCA open until 8 p.m.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, Feb. 4, 3 p.m and Sunday, Feb. 5, 3 p.m

Kara Walker sillouette
So Now I’m Looking Dead at You, What Are You Gonna Do? Kara Walker’s Contemporary Visuality

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 4:30 p.m.
Lecture on the art of Kara Walker by Kelli Morgan, the Winston and Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellow at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts and Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst. Morgan specialization is in African American women’s art. She will discuss how Kara Walker’s art explores concepts of Black women’s self-making, autonomy, subjectivity, and personal empowerment through visual expression. Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160. Following the lecture, Morgan will lead a tour of the exhibition at the UMCA.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, February 11, 3 p.m, Sunday, February 12, 3 p.m. 
Saturday, February 18, 3 p.m., Sunday, February 19, 3 p.m.

Kara Walker
Twenty-third Annual Du Bois Lecture

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 4‒6 p.m.
"Viewing the Past Through the Eyes of the Present: A Dialogue around the Work of Kara Walker.” With Barbara Krauthamer (History, Associate Dean of Graduate School), UMass; Traci Parker (Afro-American Studies, UMass); and Elizabeth Pryor (History, Smith College). Co-sponsored by the UMass W.E.B. Du Bois Center. Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, February 25, 3 p.m., Sunday, February 26, 3 p.m.

Kara Walker
The Forgotten History: Slaves in New England

Wednesday, March 1, 4:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion led by Gretchen Gerzina (Dean of the Commonwealth Honors College). Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160.

Public Tour of the Exhibition

Amherst Arts Night Plus

Thursday, March 2, 6 p.m

Tour in collaboration with Amherst Arts Night Plus. UMCA open until 8 p.m.

Caitlin Cherry

Exhibition Opens for Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Cherry’s printmaking project

Thursday, March 23
Exhibition Opens for Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Cherry’s printmaking project. Cherry was nominated by Kara Walker for the first printmaking residency collaboration between UMCA and UMass Art Department.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, March 25, 3 p.m., Sunday, March 26, 3 p.m.

Caitlin Cherry Printmaking
Caitlin Cherry: Artist Reception and Talk

Wednesday, March 29, 5‒7 p.m.

Black Aesthetics Symposium

Sat. ‒ Sun., March 31– April 1, 9 a.m.‒6 p.m.
Black Aesthetics Symposium, organized by Hampshire College Philosophy Prof. Monique Roelofs. This symposium explores the transdisciplinary, aesthetic and social-political issues raised in a number of important recent texts on Black aesthetics reflecting a variety of disciplines — African-American studies, comparative literature, philosophy, cultural studies, etc. — and a range of art mediums—poetry, music, visual arts, architecture, and popular culture. (UMass Artist-in-Residence Caitlin Cherry participates as a panelist). Franklin Patterson Hall, Hampshire College. See Hampshire College website for details: www.hampshire.edu.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, April 1 , 3 p.m., Sunday, April 2, 3 p.m.

Kara Walker
Redrawing Identity

Monday, April 3, 4‒5:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion moderated by Karen Kurczynski (Art History, UMass). This panel will discuss drawing’s unique potential as manifested in Kara Walker’s work, as well as that of other contemporary artists who use drawing to reframe social identity as it intersects directly with politics. With Kalia Brooks, (Art, NYU); Christine Ho (Art History, UMass); Daniel Kojo-Schrade (Art, Hampshire College); and Nico Vicario (Art History, Amherst College). Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, Room 160.

Public Tour of the Exhibition

Amherst Arts Night Plus

Thursday, April 6, 6 p.m

Tour in collaboration with Amherst Arts Night Plus. UMCA open until 8 p.m.

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, April 8, 3 p.m., Sunday, April 9, 3 p.m., Saturday, April 15, 3 p.m., Sunday, April 16, 3 p.m.

Daughters in Dust
Daughters of the Dust

Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Film Screening in collaboration with the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival. This is a new release of the 1991 independent film written, directed, and produced by Julie Dash. Daughters was the first feature film directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the U.S. The film will be introduced by Yemisi Jimoh, Professor of Afro-American Studies, UMass Amherst. Isenberg School of Management, Flavin Auditorium, Rm 137. 

Docent Tours

Docent Tours

Saturday, April 22, 3 p.m., Sunday, April 23, 3 p.m.
Saturday, April ,29, 3 p.m., Sunday, April 30, 3 p.m.

Say her Name
Say Her Name

Friday, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
Narratives of Oppression and Triumph, Celebrating the Voices of Women of Color. spoken word event with Kiara Hill, Afro-American Studies doctoral student; and Eden Bekele, Art History undergraduate student. Co-sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Life. Fine Arts Center lobby.