All About Kara: My Love
Posted by Jeralan on September 25, 2008 - 10:15am
Categories: Within the Walls

Thanks to Rebecca Allard for your insightful comment on Kara Walker’s complement.  The young woman you describe as the complement reminds me of Kara Walker.  This artist has not been chained by conventional art methods, and she definitely represents with courage by taking on a subject matter that many of us don’t want to talk about and many of us want to forget.  Kara Walker doesn’t allow us to forget our history or our culture in this country, and her art can definitely spark a dialogue between the races, but what do I think is Kara Walker’s complement?   

Before I could answer this question, I decided to look up the term complement.  Merriam-Webster defines complement as something that serves to complete or make up for a deficiency in something else.  I found this meaning pretty powerful.  Walker’s art has certainly opened my eyes to more of the horrors of slavery compared to what I’ve read about or seen depicted by Hollywood.  Furthermore, her art makes up for the deficiencies in the portrayal of slavery in art history.  The 2007 exhibition catalogue for Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love states that during the first half of the nineteenth century, paintings occasionally centered on scenes of Negro life in the South.  When these scenes were painted, a harmonious rural life was often depicted by artists.  The catalogue also states that the rape and murder of slaves was rarely the subject of visual art in the late eighteenth century.  However, here in the 21st century we have an artist who is filling in the gaps and exposing more truth about slavery.  Therefore, I believe that “My Complement"? is the artwork of Kara Walker.   

We will conclude our All about Kara series with “My Love"? so I leave you with this to ponder:  

Who does Kara Walker love?