Kara Walker was born in 1969 in Stockton, California. She was raised by her father who was also an artist so by the age of three she knew she wanted to be just like him. In her early life, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia with her family. She later ended up at the Atlanta College of Art. Walker received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking from the school in 1991. In 1994, she got her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and printmaking. Her graduate school was the Rhode Island School of Design, located in Providence.
She began with the dream of creating fine art. However, the older she became, she began experimenting with different types of art. These included creating pieces in order to tell a story, avant-garde styles as well as silhouettes. In New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Walker stated “I guess there was a little bit of a slight rebellion, maybe a little bit of a renegade desire that made me realize at some point in my adolescence that I really liked pictures that told stories of things—genre paintings, historical paintings—the sort of derivatives we get in contemporary society”, “Gone: An Historical Romance of a Civil War as It Occurred Between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart” was the mural that launched Walker’s career. The mural was a black paper silhouette figures against a white wall, making her a leading artistic voice on racism and race. During her extensive career, Walker has had solo exhibitions at a range of institutions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate Liverpool in Liverpool, Merseyside, England; the Metropolitan Museum of Art of in New York; and the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although she has made her large fan base, Walker’s work has stirred controversy among some. A group of older African-American artists criticized Walker for using what they considered to be black stereotypes in her art, and even tried to organize a boycott of her work in 1997.TIME magazine named Walker to the prestigious “TIME 100” list in 2007. The TIME magazine article says: “[Walker] raucously engages both the broad sweep of the big picture and the eloquence of the telling detail. She plays with stereotypes, turning them upside down, spread-eagle and inside out. She revels in cruelty and laughter. Platitudes sicken her. She is brave. Her silhouettes throw themselves against the wall and don’t blink.
The Newark Library in New Jersey covered up a large Walker drawing, which depicted a white man holding the head of a naked black woman to his groin, after employees and patrons complained about the work. Library officials later uncovered the drawing, allowing it to be shown.
Kara Walker is a very inspiring black female artist. Watching her develop as an artist is interesting and to continue to watch her work will impact myself as an aspiring artist as well as generations to come. There is no doubt that she will start a huge epidemic in this century and inspire many people.