Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power, the latest exhibition from artist Kara Walker, presents three narrative portfolio series that confront conventional views of America’s Antebellum and Reconstruction-era history and aesthetic.
The series features The Emancipation Approximation (1999-2000), which strongly exhibits Walker’s cut-paper work, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War: Annotated (2005), a printmaking series in which she annotated Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War—a popular educational series from 1866—and imposed her own prints on the originals, forcing us to remember the oppression of Blacks during that period, and An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters (2010), a series of grotesque etchings that play with shadows and one’s sense of space.
“The works on view include several of Walker’s large-scale print series, cut-steel sculptures, a mural, and a video installation,” a press release states, “displaying the range of approaches the artist has taken to exploring the legacy of slavery and its impact on contemporary American identity.”
Familiar with the provocative, Emancipating the Past is the follow up to Walker’s wide-scale piece, 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. A proliferation of molasses sculptures called “Lollipop Boys” were scattered across the factory, surrounding the Marvelous Sugar Baby, a Sphinx composed of 80 tons of sugar that represents the Slave Trade, which put sugar a high-profile commodity.
Emancipating the Past will be on view at the Bellevue Arts Museum until November 27, 2016.