This exhibition contains mature content, including depictions of physical and sexual violence.
A leading artist of her generation, Kara Walker (b. 1969) works in a range of mediums, including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, film, and the large-scale silhouette cutouts for which she is perhaps most recognized. Her powerful and provocative images employ contradictions to critique the painful legacies of slavery, sexism, violence, imperialism, and other power structures, including those in the history and hierarchies of art and contemporary culture. 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. Some highlights of the exhibition are the complete Emancipation Approximation series and images from the Porgy & Bess series. Walker’s process involves extensive research in history, literature, art history, and popular culture. Intentionally unsentimental and ambiguous, the works can be disturbing while also utilizing satire and humor, always exploring the irreconcilable inconsistencies that mirror the human condition. This is Walker’s first solo exhibition at the Frist Art Museum; her work Camptown Ladies appeared in our presentation of 30 Americans in 2013–14.
Frist Art Museum executive director and CEO Dr. Susan H. Edwards and Nashville poet Ciona Rouse served as co-curators. In addition to her curatorial responsibilities, Rouse composed original poems inspired by Walker’s works. She and Edwards have collaborated with educator Meagan Rust to plan programs related to the exhibition.
Co-curated by Susan H. Edwards and Ciona Rouse
Exhibition panels and labels
Find support and resources provided by the Sexual Assault Center’s Black Client Services Team.
What guests are saying . . .
Thank you for the reminder that everyone can make a difference. I love that the purpose of this art is to make you feel uncomfortable. Too often we shy away from that. Change will only happen when we lean into our discomfort together then avoid it. Thank you!
The truth is uncomfortable. Kara’s work sheds a light that allows others be understood and feel the truth of history. Well done!
Amazing. It is really inspiring!
lean in—look at the person—don’t judge
lean in—see yourself in the black silhouette
lean in—stand up and protect
don’t be a bystander who watches.
Respect differences. Be kind.
Meet people where they are today & move forward together.
This exhibit is raw in nature. It is aiming to trigger. It is aiming to remember. It is aiming to allow the world to understand that the gruesome time of the world did damage.
Kara’s work was beautiful and intense. It left me feeling disturbed and almost anxious. I mostly felt like I couldn’t really relate to most of the experiences depicted by the work she had so intentionally displayed. Despite those feelings though, If I left with anything, it was compassion for those who have experienced trauma comparable to what was depicted. It was beautiful.
Heather Finch on Kara Walker
Vivian Green Fryd on Kara Walker
Exhibition tour schedule:
July 23–October 10, 2021—Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN
November 5–January 17, 2022—Cincinnati Art Museum, OH
May 20–September 25, 2022—Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, FL
March 9–June 24, 2023—Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA
Fall 2023—USC Fisher Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Supported in part by
Exhibition dates are subject to change.