Chasing Kara Walker

Hello out there! I know that it has been awhile since I have written; however, as many of you know, I am a high school history teacher and school is in full swing. I have had plenty of lesson plans to prep with all the teachable events occurring in our news. At any rate, I  set aside some time to enjoy an adult’s night out last month at the Smithsonian American Art Museum where I was blessed to experience Kara Walker’s Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War. Anyone that knows me, knows  that I literally worship the ground on which Walker walks. I love her ability to transport you to an eerie but intriguing antebellum South where  Black women are the focus in many of her pieces. There are many who criticize her, for her physical depiction of Black women and claim that her work simply validates negative stereotypes and historical caricatures of Black women. I could not disagree more, for when I see her works of art, my soul is filled with immense feelings of pride. I find their full lips, dark skin, and tightly coiled hair beautiful. I love her work because just like in her Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War, she inserts these figures right smack in the middle of each body of work. You cannot see the historical scenes, without seeing her. Black women have traditionally been silenced or made invisible in historical depictions. However, her work makes you look at them. You cannot see the rest of the scenes without seeing them in all of the physical glory.

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