Kara Walker exhibition coming to MOCA Jacksonville

Opening on the State of Florida’s Emancipation day, May 20, MOCA Jacksonville presents the exhibition of Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. The exhibition is on view May 21 through September 25, 2022.

A leading artist of her generation and a MacArthur genius grant recipient, Kara Walker (b. 1969) works in a range of mediums, including the large-scale silhouette cutouts for which she is perhaps most recognized. Featuring more than 80 artworks created by the artist between 1994 and 2019, Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation includes prints, drawings, book art, sculpture, and film.

Kara Walker’s powerful and provocative images critique the painful legacies of slavery, gender violence, and exploitation, along with power structures like imperialism and colonialism, especially as they play out in the histories and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture. Intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous, the works are disturbing while also utilizing satire and humor, challenging viewers to consider America’s painful legacy of slavery and racism, that we continue to contend with today.

© Kara Walker, Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated): Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta , edition 21/35, 2005 . Offset lithography and screenprint, 39 x 53 in. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. Photo by Strode Photographic LLC.
© Kara Walker, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated): Exodus of Confederates from Atlanta , edition 21/35, 2005 . Offset lithography and screenprint, 39 x 53 in. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. Photo by Strode Photographic LLC.

“Though Walker’s work has often been seen as controversial, it is especially relevant in this time of deep unrest in American society. It is MOCA Jacksonville’s mission to promote the discovery, knowledge, and advancement of the art, artists, and ideas of our time. Part of this is our very intentional goal of ensuring that the exhibitions we host are not only relevant to our community, but inclusive in their voices, their depictions, and the stories and experiences they tell,” Caitlín Doherty, Executive Director of MOCA Jacksonville, said. “Walker’s work shines a light on the ways in which Black Americans have been included and excluded from our collective narratives for centuries, stories have been distorted and histories have been erased. These actions have had wide-reaching effects that can be seen today in communities across the country, including our own.”

This exhibition offers a broad overview of her career through more than 80 works from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, premier collectors of works on paper in the United States.

“As a collector, I know how art can inform, confound, elicit new views, and ultimately enrich our lives. For me, the thought of waking up each day without art would be like waking up without the sun,” states Jordan Schnitzer. “When you experience Kara Walker’s art, you’re challenged not only to interpret the artist’s intent, but your own response. The issues and images in this exhibition are unfortunately timeless. Race and gender inequalities have impacted our lives since the beginning of our existence. Kara Walker’s art guides us through our own beliefs and values. I hope everyone who sees this exhibition of Kara Walker’s prints and multiples is as inspired and moved as I am.”

The exhibition includes several of the artist’s most renowned series, including The Emancipation Approximation (1999–2000), Testimony (2005), Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) (2005), An Unpeopled Land in Uncharted Waters (2010), and Porgy & Bess (2013). The most recent work in the exhibition is a small-scale bronze model of Fons Americanus, the allegorical monument installed in London’s Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2019.

The museum asks that visitors please note this exhibition contains mature content, including depictions of physical and sexual trauma. A Reflection Space has been incorporated into the exhibition galleries, where visitors can pause to examine their reactions to the exhibition and share their experience, if they so wish.

MOCA Jacksonville thanks the work of its Advisory Committee for this exhibition, which included Dr. David Jamison, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History at Edward Waters University; Steffani Fletcher, Founder and Executive Director, Hope at Hand; Sheila Spivey, Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UNF; Dr. Tru Leverette, Director of Africana Studies at UNF; Adonnica L. Toler, Toler Vision Creative Consulting; Yvenie Etienne, Black Student Union President at UNF; and artists Deja Echols and Princess Simpson Rashid. 

This exhibition, drawn from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, was originally organized for the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN by co-curators former Director of the Frist Art Museum Susan H. Edwards, and Nashville poet Ciona Rouse.

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