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Art21. Kara Walker: Starting Out

SFARTS and Art21's continued partnership explores the influence of Bay Area artists, this month featuring artist Kara Walker

Best known for exploring the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality through her iconic, silhouetted figures, Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. Walker unleashes the traditionally proper Victorian medium of the silhouette directly onto the walls of the gallery, creating a theatrical space in which her unruly cut-paper characters fornicate and inflict violence on one another.

Art21 first featured Kara Walker in the “Stories” episode from Season 2 of “Art in the Twenty-First Century.” The segment traces the evolution of Walker’s work, from time spent in the studio to the artist’s recent installations of projected light.

“A lot of what I was wanting to do in my work and what I have been doing has been about the unexpected,” says the artist on Art21. “That unexpected situation of wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time.” Projecting fiction into fact, Walker’s art upsets the conventions of history and storytelling.

In the Art21 film “Kara Walker: Starting Out,” the artist reflects on her early success and offers advice to the next generation of artists. Through scholarly positions held at Columbia University and Rutgers University, Walker saw the many challenges that young artists faced and encouraged them to take responsibility for changing negative conditions in the art world.

Walker’s work “Fortuna and the Immortality Garden (Machine)” will be on view from July 1 as the first site-specific installation within SFMOMA’s admission-free ground floor Roberts Family Gallery.

Learn more about Art21 at art21.org and across social media at @art21.

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