Emancipating the Past with Kara Walker at UMass

“Emancipating the Past: Kara Walker’s Tales of Slavery and Power” is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst until April 30, 2017. Kara Walker’s artwork explores gender and racial power structures in the United States.

“Almost all of the works are paper cut outs. Those are large silhouette drawings, basically, made out of black paper on a white background, sometimes a grey background, and they are images of scenes or people, most of the time people of color. They are depicted as slaves in various different situations,” Eva Fierst, the education curator at UMCA, tells WMUA News’ Brenna McIntyre.

It’s important to view this exhibit today, says Fierst, because of the conversation it opens up about power structures with women and Black people.

“African American women have a particular role in our society as they are oftentimes burdened in various different ways as they were already burdened during slavery times. When they had the particular hardship of giving up children, giving up their body for work, and endured great abuse, actually. And those are power structures, which are obviously not crass anymore, but they’re still at play,” Fierst says.

She hopes that people will come to the exhibit to view the works of Walker, a renowned international social justice artist.

“You find yourself applying your own stereotypes when viewing these images. And that is a startling affect that people have when they go to Kara Walker’s show because they get confronted with their own stereotypes.”

For more information, please visit umass.edu/umca

Reporting: Brenna McIntyre
Production: Lucy Martirosyan

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