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Kara Walker in "Stories"

“The illusion is that most of my work is simply about past events, a point in history and nothing else,” says Kara Walker about her subversive use of the traditional silhouette technique. The segment traces the evolution of Walker’s work, from time spent in the studio to the artist’s recent installations of projected light.

“A lot of what I was wanting to do in my work and what I have been doing has been about the unexpected…that unexpected situation of wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time.” Projecting fiction into fact, Walker’s art upsets the conventions of history and storytelling.

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Assistant Curator: Wesley Miller. Production Manager: Alice Bertoni & Laura Recht. Production Coordinator: Kelly Shindler & Sara Simonson. Director of Education & Outreach: Jessica Hamlin. Consulting Director: Charles Atlas. Editor: Kate Taverna. Host Segment Artist: Charles Atlas. Host: John Waters. Director of Photography: Mark Falstad, Mead Hunt, Tom Hurwitz, Dave Insley, Cameron Wookyoung Kim, Ken Kobland, Nancy Schreiber, & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Rick Angelella, Taylor Braendel, Tom Bergin, Gordon Glascock, Sangil Han, Heidi Hesse, Jerry Stein, Scott Szabo, & Bill Wander. Gaffer/Grip: Kyle Carver, Mark Clark, Rodney French, Ned Hallick, Jeff Howison, Sam Insley, & John Roche. Assistant Camera: Jarred Alterman, Marie Chao, Chris de Gail, Anthony Fennell, Woosuck Goh, Brian Hwang, Steve Nealey, & Kipjaz Savoie. Host Make-Up: Betty Beebe. Production Assistant: Mark Chavarria, Eli Flugelman, Josh Kurz, Eric Kutner, Tony Petracci, & Matt Wright. Teleprompter: Dominic Anello. Additional Avid Editor (Kiki Smith segment): Lizzie Donahue. Assistant Avid Editor: Anne Alvergue, Heather Burack, Julie Farol, Geoff Gruetzmacher, & Eric Kutner. Still Photography: Alice Bertoni, Peter Krogh, & Fraser Stables.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Graphic Design & Animation: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Voice-Over Artist: Jace Alexander. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack F/T. Animation Stand: Frank Ferrigno & Frame:Runner NYC.

Artworks courtesy of: Trenton Doyle Hancock; Kiki Smith; Do-Ho Suh; Kara Walker; Brent Sikkema; Dunn & Brown Contemporary, Dallas; Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art; Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia; Huntington Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art; James Cohan Gallery; Lehmann Maupin Gallery; MASS MoCA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Pace Editions; Pace/MacGill; PaceWildenstein; Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Tony Smith Estate; & Whitney Museum of American Art. Archival footage courtesy of: Bradley B. Miller & Rachel-Anne Younger.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees; Asian Art Museum; Jamie Bennett; Ian Berry; Julia Sprinkel Downes; Talley Dunn; Tracey Frey; Ultan Guilfoyle; Harlan and Weaver; Holy Cross Cathedral Shekinah; Mark Janzen; Johnson Atelier; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Sue Patterson; Seattle Art Museum; The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; Two Palms Press; Jonathan Turer; & Gretchen Wagner.

Interns: Sharon Ber, Elana Davidian, Eliza Geddes, Karmin Guzder, Ehren Joseph, Lisa Kalikow, Lila Kanner, Crystal Kui, Daniela Leonard, Ronny Merdinger, Parth Savla, Kristen Smith, Whitney Smith, Morgan Soloski, Jo-ey Tang, Asya Varshishky, Jesse Whittle-Utter, & Jeremy Zilar.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman. Bookkeeper: William Handy.

Major underwriting for Season 2 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Bloomberg, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund, JPMorgan Chase, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, New York Arts Recovery Fund, Peter Norton Family Foundation, New York Times Company Foundation, Dorothea L. Leonhart Foundation, and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Kara Walker

Kara Walker explores the raw intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in her work, crafting vivid psychological narratives from a contemporary perspective on historical conditions. Over the past two decades, Walker has unleashed the traditionally Victorian medium of the silhouette onto the walls of the gallery, creating immersive installations that envelop the viewer. Walker’s multi-media work—which includes drawing, watercolor, video, and sculpture—often reconsider grotesque caricatures, probing their persistence in popular culture and reclaiming their subjugating power to alternative ends.

“The illusion is that most of my work is simply about past events, a point in history and nothing else.”

Kara Walker

History Reimagined

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Read 1


Projecting Fictions: “Insurrection! Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On”

Kara Walker discusses her 2002 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, Insurrection! (Our Tools Were Rudimentary, Yet We Pressed On).

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