Artists & Curators

Artist: Kara Walker

Lecturer: Deborah Willis, New York University


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Exhibit Dates

January 25 – March 8, 2013

Reception Date

February 22, 2013


Schmucker Art Gallery presents an exhibition of works of art by prominent contemporary artist and MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award recipient Kara Walker. Her suite of lithographs Harper’s Pictorial History (Annotated) on loan from the Middlebury College Museum of Art takes Civil War-era imagery as its subject to question issues of identity, history, sexuality and race, particularly in relation to stereotypes and historical perceptions of African Americans. Walker enlarges Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, first published in 1866 to reinterpret and disrupt this celebrated document of American history. "These prints," Walker explains, "are the landscapes that I imagine exist in the back of my somewhat more austere wall pieces." Walker’s silhouettes of distorted, fragmented, and flailing black bodies subvert the original narrative of the Harper’s prints. Walker's silhouettes incorporate a new understanding of suffering, loss and horror absent from the nineteenth-century illustrations. Also on exhibit will be the original publication of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (1866), on loan from Special Collections and College Archives, to serve as a comparative tool for reading the Civil War imagery in its original context.

See the full exhibit catalog here.

Document Type



Kara Walker, Harper's Weekly, Civil War, black body, racist pathology