2018 Student Research Conference:
31st Annual Student Research Conference

Paper and Sugar: Addressing Black Female Identity with Kara Walker

Christina S. Elem
Dr. Sara Orel, Faculty Mentor

African-American contemporary artist Kara Walker is best known for her black and white, paper silhouette caricatures that depict stereotypical images derived from the antebellum South. Walker disregards the comfort level of her audience with these images by, some would say, inappropriately defining black and white men and women. Often viewed as controversial, her art attempts to address issues of identity, race and sexuality, in hopes to help her audience understand their own bias, whatever it may be, on these issues. This controversy has created the debate among critics on whether the delivery of her message is just as profound and noteworthy as the message itself. Through a visual analysis of her work, I will examine two of her silhouette pieces alongside her sculpture piece to determine if and how Walker’s artwork has helped liberate African American women from negative social stereotypes.

Keywords: African American, Woman, Stereotypes, Identity, Caricature, Kara Walker, Sculpture, Silhouette

Topic(s):Art - Art History
African-American Studies
Women's and Gender Studies

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 307-1
Location: MG 2090
Time: 1:00

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