Two silhouettes printed over the image of a covered wagon train moving through the landscape. On the left, the silhouette of a standing figure, facing right, with long thin arms (depicted as if they were made from twigs) and a club right foot, wearing a hat and holding a pail in its right hand and a hoe in its left. On the right, the silhouette of a figure lying on the ground with a cloud eminating from a hole in its stomach. In the cloud the word 'soul' is written and followed by more letters that trail off to the right.
Contemporary artist Kara Walker’s work reminds us of the inherent subjectivity of historical perspective. This work is one of 15 prints belonging to Walker’s powerful series in which she enlarges selected images from two volumes of Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (1866–68) and then “annotates” them by superimposing her signature silhouettes, thereby disrupting the original narrative. Walker inserts issues of racial stereotypes, slavery, gender, and the violence of oppression otherwise absent in these mid-19th century representations.
-Ellen Alvord, Weatherbie Curator of Education and Academic Programs, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)
diaspora; slavery; African American
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