MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 1997

Kara E. Walker

Installation Artist

Providence, Rhode Island

Age: 28 at time of award

Published July 1, 1997

Kara Walker is an artist whose works often deal with issues of race in the antebellum South.

Walker's installations, drawings, and paintings are provocative and grimly humorous.  In her installations, she creates narratives of the old South by cutting stylized, life-sized figures from black paper that she pastes, as in a mural, around the walls of the gallery she is showing in.  Her use of the silhouette technique and related sources derive from the German fairy tale, history painting, and colonial portraiture.  Walker’s installations, filled with slave-era, stereotypical figures, are graphic and violent tableaus that explore the vestiges of sexual, physical, and racial exploitation in a challenging manner.

Walker is an associate professor in the Visual Arts division at Columbia University.  Since 1990, she has participated in group exhibits at galleries throughout the United States and abroad, including the Whitney Biennial (1997) and the Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil (2002).  She has had solo exhibits at Wooster Gardens in New York (1995, 1996, 1998), the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago (1997), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1997), and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (1997). 

Walker received a B.F.A. (1991) from the Atlanta College of Art and an M.F.A. (1994) from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Kara E. Walker In the Media

"“Kara Walker: Emancipating the Past” at Springfield Art Museum"

Springfield News-Leader
Kara E. Walker , 1997 MacArthur Fellow
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"Toni Morrison’s ‘God Help the Child’"

The New York Times
Kara E. Walker , 1997 MacArthur Fellow
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"Kara Walker “Sweet Talks” Harvard"

Harvard Magazine
Kara E. Walker , 1997 MacArthur Fellow
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"Kara Walker 'Sweet Talks' Harvard"

Harvard Magazine
Kara E. Walker , 1997 MacArthur Fellow
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"A Bittersweet Confection: Kara Walker's Sugar Sculpture"

The Harvard Gazette
Kara E. Walker , 1997 MacArthur Fellow
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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

Nicole Eisenman, Painter

Class of 2015