In this Art AV Club I take a look at Kara Walker’s work and how good art tells both a universal and personal story.
I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole recently, like you do. I took an online class and one of the bonus materials was a video about Cy Twombly. After I watched it, I wondered if there were videos on other Abstract Expressionists. And just like all trips down the YouTube rabbit hole, I surfaced several hours later awed by the amazing content and looking for snacks.
Social media doesn’t allow for easy sharing of this kind of material. So I decided to make it a recurring feature on my blog. And just like that, Art AV Club was born! On Mondays, I’ll post videos of or about artists. I’ll share a bit about why what they do intrigues me. I hope you’ll go on this journey with me. Contemporary artist Kara Walker is my pick this week for Art AV Club.
Someone on IG sent me photos of their “Sugar Baby” experience and I’ve been fascinated ever since. (PS If this was you, please remind me because I’ve been trying desperately to remember who showed it to me and give you credit here.)
In literature, an unreliable narrator is a character who is untrustworthy to be an objective storyteller of their lives as facts. I love this idea of interrogating history via satire and Walker’s perceptions.
I love Kara Walker’s work. The clever use of her long titles to tell the story that is both illuminating and a critique of the pretentiousness of the art world has me awestruck every time. I love the depth of her work, the deep thought behind her pieces. I have a real connection to her use of low art materials to tell high concept stories. Hearing her speak about approaching these very challenging projects without a roadmap reassures me because I often don’t know how I will express what I want to say in a particular show or work.
Artists often strive to tell stories that speak universally while also telling our own story in particular. I think Walker achieves that in her art. It’s certainly what I was trying to do with “Women’s Work”. I have this piece from that collection hanging just to the left of my desk where I write these posts and two Christa David prints as well. A silent reminder to keep pushing my ideas forward, to keep pushing my art forward.
Go exploring on your own
I hope you enjoyed this Art AV Club! If you have an hour, I highly recommend you watch Kara Walker’s Sweet Talk at Harvard detailing the conception and installation of “Sugar Baby.” She is delightful to listen to and has many slides of the creation, installation, and destruction of the work. As a working contemporary artist, she has many interviews and talks available on YouTube and since many of her works are installations, hearing her talk about the work and viewing slides is as close to seeing the work as many of us will ever be. I’ll be bringing another artist next week so check back on Monday. If there’s an artist you’d like my take on, drop me a note and I’ll put them on the list!