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Athenaeum presents first Kara Walker solo exhibition in Georgia

Alan Flurry

The Athenaeum presents Kara Walker: Back of Hand, the first solo exhibition to be held in Georgia of the work of this internationally renowned artist. The exhibition displays a series of new works on paper by Kara Walker that examine themes such as complicity, racism, misremembered histories, and the violence that undergirds the legacy of the South. Walker moved to Stone Mountain from Stockton, CA when she was 13 and attended college at the Atlanta College of Art and Design. The exhibition will be on display at the Athenaeum, the University of Georgia’s contemporary art space, from January 13th to March 23rd, 2023.

Currently based in New York, Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. The body of work in this exhibition represents her continued practice in drawing, working in watercolor, gouache, ink and graphite to create a series that calls forth the past at once mythological and real, ancient and contemporary. According to Walker, “I am always reflecting on the state of current events and the overlap of the historical and the mythic.”

Walker draws from a variety of influences in this recent work, recalling the political sketches of Goya, the caricatures of Daumier, and the “exotic” spectacle presented in the paintings of Gaugin. Two suites of work on display from her on-going series Book of Hours, started during the pandemic, have multivalent references that stem from medieval illuminated manuscripts to the actual time Walker spent creating the work to the uncanny, out-of-time sensation many of us endured during the early months of lock-down.


Image: Kara Walker, Brambles, 2021. Graphite, watercolor, gouache, and sumi-e ink on paper. 22 1/2 x 30 inches. (KW 19778). Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery.

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