The Frist Art Museum presents Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, an exhibition that offers a broad overview of the artist’s career and explores racial and sexist exploitation, abuse and inequality.
Co-hosted by the Executive Director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum, Dr. Susan H. Edwards and Nashville poet Ciona Rouse, Cut to the Quick will be on view from July 23 to October 10, 2021.
A leading artist of her generation, Kara Walker (b.1969) works in a wide range of mediums including prints, drawings, paintings, sculptures, films and the large scale silhouette cutouts for which she is. perhaps the most recognized. His powerful and provocative images employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism and other power structures, including those of history and hierarchies of the contemporary art and culture. Through more than 80 works created between 1994 and 2019 from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the first collectors of works on paper in the United States, Cut to the Quick simultaneously demonstrates the mastery of the medium and the power of Walker’s message. .
“His hard-hitting, unorthodox depictions of taboo subjects expose the raw flesh of generational wounds that never healed,” writes Dr Edwards in an introduction to the exhibit. “Intentionally non-sentimental and ambiguous, the works can be disturbing but also humorous, always exploring the irreconcilable inconsistencies that reflect the human condition.”
This is Walker’s first solo exhibition at the Frist Art Museum; her work Camptown Ladies appeared in The Frist of 30 Americans in 2013-14.
Cut to the Quick includes several of the artist’s best-known series: The Emancipation Approximation (1999-2000), Testimony (2005), Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) (2005), An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters (2010), and Porgy & Bess (2013). The first work in the exhibition is Topsy (1994), which depicts a figure from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).
The most recent work is a bronze replica of Fons Americanus, the 43-foot-tall allegorical monument installed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2019. Walker’s original and the upcoming version, both based on the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, addresses the interdependence of governments and private companies in the generation of American and European wealth through the transatlantic slave trade.
Walker’s process involves extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. His groundbreaking installations of room-sized figure paintings are also inspired by mythology and fantasy and stem from his study of colonial portraiture, animated films, and paper-cut silhouettes (a popular domestic craft in 19th century America).
Controversial early in her career, Walker’s steadfast vision puts her, more than twenty-five years later, at the forefront of centuries-old cries against injustice, more recently articulated in the international wave of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. , “writes Dr. Edwards. “The art of the walker demands attention. Can the discomfort, disgust, tension, anxiety and excitement caused by these images explode stereotypes?
In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, co-curator Ciona Rouse has composed poems inspired by Walker’s works that will be on display in the gallery, with QR codes directing guests to audio versions of the poems. “Rouse’s words merge genre within genre, expanding our understanding of the visual, verbal, oral and performative complexity of artist rhetoric,” writes Dr. Edwards. “It gives voice to those absent and establishes links through time and between the spectator and the artist.”