“I found myself mining my subconscious for racist metaphors, jokes, asides, from as many points of view as I could. It is amazing to discover how much you already know, or have heard tell of, when you delve into your heart of darkness.”—Kara Walker, 2000
Artist Kara Walker delves into American history—political, social, cultural, and personal—to root out narratives tainted by imagination, hysteria, and revisionist fantasy. Working primarily with the genteel 18th-century art form of paper-cut silhouettes, Walker invents and reinterprets history through the use of stereotypes, caricature, and narrative. In her paintings, Laylah Ali also focuses on the figure and themes of race, violence, and emotional intensity. For this program, Ali engages Walker in a conversation about the visual and literary influences on her work and the use of history, race, humor, and shame in her narratives.