Please join us for the third installment of the Mandy & Cliff Einstein Visiting Artist Series, featuring a public lecture by world-renowned artist Kara Walker in conversation with Jamillah James.
New York-based artist Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide.
Born in Stockton, California in 1969, Walker was raised in Atlanta, Georgia from the age of 13. She studied at the Atlanta College of Art (BFA, 1991) and the Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1994). She is the recipient of many awards, notably the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Artists, Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. Walker is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (elected 2012) and American Philosophical Society (elected 2018). Her work can be found in museums and public collections throughout the United States and Europe including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; and the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo (MAXXI), Rome.
Walker’s major survey exhibition, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, was organized by The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis where it premiered in February 2007 before traveling to ARC/ Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented the Art Institute of Chicago (2013); Camden Arts Centre in London (2013); Metropolitan Arts Center (MAC) in Belfast (2014), The Cleveland Museum of Art (2016), and DESTE Foundation Project Space in Hydra, Greece (2017).
In February 2018, on the closing weekend of Prospect New Orleans art triennial, Walker premiered The Katastwóf Karavan, a wagon-mounted thirty-eight note steam calliope that plays songs associated with the history of African-American protest and celebration in styles ranging from traditional spirituals to jazz to funk. Sited on Algiers Point where slaves entering New Orleans were held before transport across the river to be sold, the work gave shape and voice to those who suffered through the great Catastrophe that was the result of the institution of Slavery.
During the spring of 2014, Walker’s first large scale public project, a monumental installation entitled A Subtlety: Or… the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, was on view at the abandoned Domino Sugar refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Commissioned and presented by Creative Time, the project – a massive sugar covered sphinx-like sculpture – responded to and reflected on troubled history of sugar. The installation was seen by over 130,000 visitors over the course of 9 weekends that the exhibition was open to the public and received an overwhelming critical response. For this project, Walker was also awarded the 2015 Brendan Gill Prize, presented by The Municipal Art Society of New York “for a work of art that embodies the spirit of New York City.”
Kara Walker currently lives and works in New York City and is the Tepper Chair in the Visual Arts at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Jamillah James is Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICA LA). With Margot Norton, she is curating the 2021 edition of the New Museum Triennial. Prior to joining ICA LA in 2016, James was Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, working in collaboration with the nonprofit Art + Practice. She has held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Queens Museum, Flushing, New York; and organized many exhibitions, performances, screenings, and public programs at alternative and artist-run spaces throughout the US and Canada since 2004.
Recent exhibitions include solo presentations of Rafa Esparza, Abigail DeVille, Sarah Cain, Simone Leigh, Alex Da Corte, Michele O’Marah, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. James is currently working on major solo exhibitions of B. Wurtz and Nayland Blake, artist projects with Maryam Jafri and Lucas Blalock, as well as the group exhibition The Living End: Painting and Other Technologies 1970-Present (2020).
She has contributed texts to Artforum, The International Review of African American Art, and various institutional exhibition catalogues, most recently on artists Diamond Stingily, Barbara Hammer, and Nina Chanel Abney. James regularly lectures on contemporary art, curating, and professional development for emerging artists, and is a visiting critic in the graduate department at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena.