Paper Dolls and Paper Cuts: Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins & Co

I definitely can be categorized as a fan of Kara Walker’s work.  Okay, we know it’s derivative, that is, it’s been done.  When I first saw the work years back, I knew it seemed familiar.  I didn’t know where it was that I may have seen the graphic silhouettes before, depicting the struggles of African Americans.  But I knew they referenced an established style. So I finally saw the style in real life, on teacups. I believe that it was in the collection at the Museum of the City of New York (it was a while back, so I’ll have to verify which museum it was). Nonetheless, I do enjoy the work every time I see it.

Kara Walker at times ventures outside the boundaries of her recognized schtick. And I would have to say, I’ve never been very impressed with those experiments. I think that it is because the silhouette is so strong in its graphical nature that using anything other that the simple presentation, and the jarring narrative associated with it ends up competing with what is expected.

So the 3 dimensional cut paper dioramas are a comfortable extension of her work. At the NY Art Book Fair last week, I saw a piece by her, created as an edition for the Norton Family Holiday card. It was a pop-up book of delicately cut images. I believe that it was an edition of 4000. I would expect that they were laser cut, rather than hand cut, but again the imagery was riveting, and wonderful eye candy.

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