Kara Walker at Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

Kara Walker at Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

Kara Walker, Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, 2011. DVD video with sound, 17 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. © Kara Walker.
September 13, 2012
Kara Walker at Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College

September 4–November 18, 2012

Public artist talk by Kara Walker: October 2, 7pm
Vollum lecture hall, Reed College campus
Followed by a public reception at the Cooley Gallery

Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery
Reed College Library, First Fl.
3203 SE Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202
Hours: Tue–Sun, 12–5pm, free


Kara Walker visits Reed College as a Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitor in the Arts.

The Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery is proud to present a one-person exhibition of the work of celebrated artist Kara Walker. Since her first exhibition at the Drawing Center in 1994, Walker has fearlessly explored America’s history of slavery, racism, and political and sexual violence with a riveting, deeply psychological visual vocabulary based, in part, on the tradition of the cut-paper silhouette. Walker’s poetic, whimsical, and, at times, nightmarish fictions are achieved through an experimental synthesis of puppetry, poetry, film, drawing, and mixed-media.

At the center of More & Less is Walker’s most recent film—Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale (2011)—and a body of prints and multiples from the collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale comes to Reed College courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY.

Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale (2011)—is a playful and violent shadow-puppet narrative that tells the story of a white Southern Belle whose relationship with a young black laborer catalyzes a horrific chain of events. The film explores the historical mythologies surrounding white female “purity” and Southern womanhood—commodities protected from the presumed hyper-sexuality of black men. Such racism resulted in the murder of countless black men and boys in antebellum and Jim Crow America. Incorporating historical photographs and a varied soundtrack that includes Mississippi Delta Blues, Fall Frum Grace is simultaneously comedic, farcical, and tragic—a collage of ancient narrative forms and their attendant emotional registers. Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale explores the historical beginnings of American popular entertainment—minstrelsy in particular—to tell a tale of, in the artist’s words, “forbidden love, and inevitable, devastating loss.” As puppeteer and historian Amber West states, “Though we might rather not admit it in this ‘post-racial’ era, the blackface minstrel show was the first distinctly American form of theater and popular entertainment.”

Alongside Miss Pipi’s Blue Tale, the exhibition includes prints and multiples created by Walker over the past fifteen years. Like the film, the exhibited prints explore the symbolism and theatricality of imagined historical space, depicting figures such as abolitionist John Brown. The prints also explore the visual and pictorial history of the Civil War through appropriated images from the  popular periodicals of the time, namely Harper’s Weekly. During the Civil War, popular magazines deployed artists to record both major conflicts and everyday life. Messengers rushed the drawings back to woodblock carvers and pressmen who brought the images to the public in as little time as two weeks. A highly accomplished printmaker, Walker has published at Landfall Press in Chicago, and the Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the Columbia University School of the Arts.

Kara Walker, More & Less, is curated by Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College. The exhibition publication, distributed free to visitors, contains a scholarly essay by Kris Cohen, Assistant Professor of Art History and Humanities, with an introduction by the curator. Kara Walker visits Reed College as a Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitor in the Arts. Walker’s visit to Reed College is organized by Kris Cohen. Related public programs, developed in collaboration with the Reed College Office for Institutional Diversity, will be posted on the Cooley Gallery website.

Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Her major survey show, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love, premiered at the The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN in February 2007 before traveling to ARC/Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; and the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth. Other recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland (2011); CAC Málaga, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and MDD – Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle, Belgium (both 2008). She participated in the 52nd Venice International Biennale in 2007 and was the United States representative to the 25th International São Paulo Biennial in Brazil in 2002.

Walker is the recipient of many awards including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award in 1997, the Deutsche Bank Prize in 2000, and United States Artists Eileen Harris Norton Fellowship in 2008. Her work is included in numerous museums and public collections including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, London; the Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanee, Rome; and Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt. She lives and works in New York City.

The Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitors in the Arts program was established in 1988 by a generous gift from long-time supporters of the college Edward and Sue Cooley and John and Betty Gray, in support of the teaching of art and art history, and its place in the humanities. The Ostrow program enables Reed College to bring distinguished scholars and practitioners to the college to deliver free public lectures and work extensively with students. Visitors include: Terry Winters, David Reed ’68, Hans Haacke, Richard Schiff, Mona Hatoum, David Rosand, Robert Morris, Michael Fried, Leo Steinberg, Linda Nochlin, Al Held, Dennis Oppenheim, Adrian Piper, and Judy Pfaff.

Additional events related to the exhibition are forthcoming in separate press releases. All events are free and open to the public.
For general exhibition information please call 503 517 7851.

For information regarding visiting the Reed College campus for Walker’s artist talk, please call Brittney Corrigan-McElroy at 503 788 6650.


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Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College
September 13, 2012

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