Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California, in 1969. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Atlanta College of Art, and now lives in New York. Walker is well known for her cut-out silhouettes and films that examine, in particular, race, the history of the Antebellum South in the USA, African-American identity, and representations of black women. These tableaux offer a visual paring down of the history of Africa in America but despite their graphic simplicity they are often replete with violence and action. In an interview for the film series Art:21 Walker comments that ‘A lot of my work has been about the unexpected … wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time. That kind of dilemma, that push and pull, is the underlying turbulence that I bring to each of the pieces that I make. The silhouette lends itself to avoidance of the subject, not being able to look at it directly.’
Kara Walker began exhibiting her work in 1995. She has had numerous solo exhibitions since then in galleries and museums in the US, Europe, and the Middle East, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Mannheimer Kunstverein in Munich, Deutsche Guggenheim, Tate Liverpool, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has also participated in group exhibitions such as SITE Santa Fe, the Whitney Biennial, and the Istanbul Biennale. Her works are in many important public collections.